The Detroit Sickout: Day 2

Public school teachers in Detroit are expected stay home for a second day Tuesday as the city’s teachers union continued a sickout over pay.

As we reported Monday, Steven Rhodes, the emergency manager of the Detroit Public Schools, told the union the district would be unable to pay them once $48.7 million in emergency state aid runs out June 30. Here’s more from the Detroit Free Press:

Teachers said they had been told that the $48.7 million allocated by the Legislature last month to fund the district through June 30 would cover summer pay for approximately two-thirds of district teachers who signed up for a plan that allows teachers to spread their pay over one year instead of during the school year.

Rhodes denied this at a news conference today.

“We said all along that the $48.7 million … was only enough money to fund our expenditures through June,” Rhodes said.

He called on lawmakers to pass legislation that would provide about $720 million in funding to launch a new DPS. He said he wants, and intends, to pay teachers, but that legislation is vital in order to do so.

In a statement on its website, the Detroit Federation of Teachers, the union representing the city’s educators, said Rhodes and other officials had been unable Monday to guarantee that teachers would get paid for their work, leading to Tuesday’s continued sickout.

“We do not work for free and therefore we do not expect you to report to school tomorrow,” the union said.

The Detroit News points out that public school teacher strikes are illegal in Michigan, “and a spate of coordinated sickouts in DPS this winter has caused lawmakers to consider tightening the definition of what constitutes a strike.”