AFSCME Denounces Mt. Pleasant Schools Privatization Plans

Jun 23, 2010, 14:18 ET from Michigan AFSCME Council 25, AFL-CIO

MT. PLEASANT, Mich., June 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Albert Garrett, President of Michigan Council 25 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO, issued the following statement:

"The Mt. Pleasant School employees, AFSCME Local 2310 bargaining committee has been meeting over the past several weeks with District Administration in an attempt to reach an agreement to maintain the employment of the current custodial staff," stated Garrett.  "Unfortunately, it appears Superintendent Joe Pius would rather contract out the jobs to a Grand Rapids cleaning company.  His scheme includes replacing 23 full-time custodians with part-time employees paid low wages and few or no benefits.   The current employees are dedicated, long-term employees who have devoted over 300 years collectively to the children and the District.  

"These employees are community members whom the students know and respect, employees who go above and beyond in the roles as members of the staff.  It is a shame that the Superintendent would rather put money in the hands of a private contractor, one who will spend the money in another community," continued Garrett.  "The current employees live in the community, pay taxes, spend their wages locally and their children and grandchildren attend the Mt. Pleasant Schools.   The superintendent fails to recognize that the current employees provide more than just a cleaning service to the District; they often donate their own time to the students and the District.  He doesn't consider the financial impact to the community when these employees lose their jobs and no longer have the money to spend in the Community.  

"The bargaining committee representing these employees has worked diligently in an attempt to cut costs to the District.  They have submitted numerous proposals with substantial concessions amounting to approximately $600,000 which is equivalent to 50 percent of the current actual cost for this employee group," Garrett pointed out.  "Every time AFSCME makes a proposal to the District, Mr. Pius changes the numbers.  During last week's meeting, the District provided a list of options for cost saving and noted the savings for each item.  When AFSCME responded with a proposal to accept a number of the options presented, the District responded by stating that the numbers they had provided previously were wrong and the savings could not be achieved by making the noted cuts that they had recommended."  

"The whole process has become extremely frustrating, we have members willing to give so much because of their dedication to the District and the students, and the superintendent appears to only want to eliminate the employees," stated Shana Alderton, Administrative Director for AFSCME Council 25.  "Yet he was willing to move his bottom line on contracting other services in the District and his proposed budget in February included only a 30 percent reduction for custodial services.  The current proposal not only meets the budget as presented, but the numbers actually exceed the savings that were proposed."

"Michigan AFSCME Council 25 has already filed an Unfair Labor Practice Charge against the district with the Michigan Employees Relation Commission and additional charges are pending," concluded Garrett.  "If the District takes action to enter into an agreement with the Grand Rapids company at the June 28, 2010 School Board meeting and then terminates all of the current employees, the action could incur a huge financial liability for the district if AFSCME prevails in these charges."

The Union will be picketing prior to the school board meeting on June 28, 2010 at the West Intermediate School and members and community supporters are expected to speak during the board meeting in an attempt to convince the school board members that contracting out the services is absolutely not in the best interest of the students and community, nor is it cost effective for the District.

Albert Garrett is also Michigan Vice President for AFSCME International.  Michigan AFSCME Council 25 represents more than 90,000 public workers across Michigan.  AFSCME International represents 1.4 million public workers nationwide.  News releases issued by Michigan AFSCME Council 25 are available at http://laborweb.afscme.org/sites/MI_C_25.

SOURCE Michigan AFSCME Council 25, AFL-CIO