DETROIT – While some teachers might complain about the size of their paycheck, Detroit Public School teachers are hardly surprised when they don’t get a check at all.
“We need something that will effectively, regularly pay the teachers what they’re owed. They do the work. They need the pay. They need it on-time, with bills to pay. All they get now is a runaround,” Detroit Federation of Teachers President Steve Conn told Click on Detroit.
Conn raised a ruckus in the media this week after some of his members were shorted hundreds of dollars in their paychecks, while others didn’t receive a pay check at all. And it’s not the first time.
The socialist union boss blames Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, of course, because Snyder has sent in emergency financial managers to divert DPS from its crash course with total financial and academic failure, though the first EFM was sent in by former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
“There’s been nothing but a steady degrading and dismantling of any kind of structures within the system, including just regularly and accurately paying our teachers,” Conn told Michigan Radio. “There’s no fairness for the teachers in the DPS payroll system, and it’s continuing to drive teachers out of the district.”
Conn said that when district officials do resolve payment issues, teachers are paid on debt cards, which “are even harder to deal with” because of withdrawal limits and fees, according to the radio station.
“When I went online to look at my pay stub, I saw it was short by a whole week,” Regina Dixon, a teacher at Coleman A. Young Elementary, told The Detroit News.
“I was upset because I have obligations I need to meet. So I went down there today and was told they had to put the money on a debit card, so I have to go back on Friday after 3 p.m. But it’s inconvenient to have to go back, and there may be a long line,” she said.
“It’s a shame we have to go through this, especially with the so-called transformation of the schools.”
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“It’s disheartening because I worked for my money and I want it,” Charles Wright Academy teacher Marcie Taylor said. “I’m calculating how much to pay for bills, and I help my mother, who is sick, but now my check is short.”
Taylor said it’s at least the second time the district has paid her on a debit card because of payroll problems.
“A lot of us are working paycheck to paycheck because our pay has decreased,” she said. “We’re getting paid less because our health insurance went up. I’m paying $200 per paycheck for insurance. Now I have to call about my bills and ask if I can pay them on Friday because I wasn’t paid all my money on time.”
DPS spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski told the News “a variety of technical issues arose that affected a cross-section of DPS employees” but did not elaborate on the problems.
Zdrodowski contends the pay issues are not tied the district’s massive money problems.
DPS “has run a deficit in nine of the past 11 fiscal years, with a net accumulated deficit of $1.28 billion during that period. Four state-appointed emergency managers have been named in the past six years, with Darnell Earley being appointed in January,” the News reports.
Zdrodowski also disputed Conn’s claim that some teachers did not receive any pay check, and said district officials are addressing pay problems on a case-by-case basis. DPS employs about 3,000 teachers.
“I don’t know the exact number (affected); we’re still calculating,” Zdrodowski told CBS Detroit Tuesday. “But we’ve been, you know, working with the coalition of unions and with our employees to resolve the payroll issues as quickly as we can.”
“We’re confident that we’ll have them all addressed between today and Friday,” she said.
In a DFT press release on “more payroll foul-ups,” Conn contends that there’s a lot more pending payroll issues than the most recent snafu.
“This is at least the second major payroll problem in that many weeks. And on top of those problems, DPS still owes hundreds of teachers numerous special payments for workshops and earned bonuses,” he wrote, according to the News.