Hamtramck city officials and city unions aren’t alone in facing some tough choices to survive these harsh economic times.
Public school officials and employees are also being hit hard and must make some tough choices. To avoid a massive layoff, Superintendent Tom Niczay is seeking contract concessions, namely asking employees to contribute 25 percent of their health insurance cost.
In the next few years, the district is looking at a $3.8 million because of state funding cuts and increasing costs for health benefits. While Gov. Jennifer Granholm is scrambling to find a way to avoid reducing state aid for students, it looks like Republican legislators will continue to block her efforts.
For some districts, this has already led to employee layoffs and the closing of schools. Hamtramck’s financial planner, Glenn Pasternak, said he can reduce the deficit under a five-year plan.
But that plan relies on the teachers’ union agreeing to concessions. And if things keep going the way some are predicting, there could be more deep state financial aid cuts in the next few years. That will likely bankrupt most districts, which is why we need to elect state legislators who can agree on the right thing to do.
In the meantime, school employees must realize that everyone is taking pay cuts and reductions in benefits. Many companies have already eliminated benefits for their employees. The proposed contract concession is not unreasonable considering the historical economic times we are living through.
City employees are also facing layoffs if they don’t agree to contract concessions, which includes a 5 percent pay cut and a three-year wage freeze. Again, considering the alternative of laying off 17 cops and 16 firefighters, the concessions are a relative bargain.