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Detroit schools chief: Unions need to get on board or out of the way

Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager Roy Roberts
Detroit Public Schools
Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager Roy Roberts

Update 3:52 pm:

Roy Roberts' budget plansubmitted to the state today calls for cutting wages by 10 percent. It would also trim expenses by $231 million, and reduce contracts by $48 million. As Roberts already announced, the proposal calls for floating $200 million in bonds to help erase the district's $327 million deficit.


The emergency manager for Detroit Public Schools says he wants to work with the district’s unions.

Roy Roberts says he could have come into the job and “slashed and burned” – getting rid of all labor agreements and the school board under the new powers the state’s emergency manager law grants him.

"That’s not who I am and that’s not who I want to be. But I want to be clear: If they can add plus value to the process, I need it and want it. We need it and want it. But if they don’t, I’m not putting up with crap."

Union leaders have criticized Governor Snyder’s plan tocreate a new districtthat will oversee Detroit’s worst-performing schools. Roberts will be in charge of negotiating labor contracts for teachers assigned to work in those schools.

Roberts made the remarks at a forum in Detroit hosted by the Michigan Chronicle.

Sarah Hulett is Michigan Public's Director of Amplify & Longform, helping reporters to do their best work.