Education Dept. Rejects Latest Offer to Avert Layoffs

Friday, September 30, 2011 - 01:05 PM

With the clock ticking, the union representing most of the school employees scheduled to lose their jobs next week was dealt another blow on Friday, as the Department of Education rejected its latest package of cost-saving proposals meant to avert the layoffs.

The layoffs would affect roughly 700 school aides, parent coordinators, health aides and family workers, who help students manage issues like attendance and homelessness.

Under the proposal, some 10,000 workers represented by the union, Local 372, District Council 37 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, would give up pay on two holidays and take unpaid time off on days devoted to teachers’ professional development, when school is not in session but support employees are required to show up.

The union also proposed reducing the hours that the school aides, health aides and family workers on the layoff list — 584 in all — worked each day in exchange for job security, bringing their maximum workload to four hours.

“It is totally incomprehensible to me, after making a number of proposals, why the D.O.E. basically refused to negotiate in good faith,” said Santos Crespo, the president of Local 372, which represents the school aides, parent coordinators and other school support staff members in danger of being laid off.

Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott said this week that the union’s proposal “would have adversely impacted schools all across the system,” hinting that the department would not be open to embracing them.

On Friday, Mr. Walcott said in a statement: "I'm sympathetic to these workers, and we tried very hard during the budget negotiations to work with the unions to find savings. But schools had to absorb a budget cut, and our principals made the best staffing decisions they could for their students."

Even if accepted, the union’s proposals would still have to be approved by the roughly 10,000 members of Local 372.

If the layoffs are not averted, next Friday will be the last day of work for the people who have received pink slips.

Mr. Crespo, in a statement, urged “our members, brothers and sisters in the labor movement, parents, teachers, students and the community” to attend a rally on Tuesday at 4 p.m. on the steps of City Hall to protest the cuts.


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