For the last 13 years, Lynne Santoscoy has been a social worker at Cesar Chavez Academy (CCA) Middle School in Southwest Detroit. On Wednesday, October 30 she was informed that her position was going to be eliminated by the end of the week aa charter school locatend on Thursday morning, she was asked to leave the building immediately with no opportunity to say goodbye to students and parents she has worked with for years.
Other teachers and staff have also had their hours cut or positions changed in the last few weeks. These staffing changes come in the midst of contract negotiations between The Leona Group—the for-profit management company that runs CCA—and the newly established teacher’s union, the Cesar Chavez Academy Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff (CCA-ACTS). Staff voted overwhelmingly to unionize in February 2013 and join the Michigan Alliance of Charter Teachers & Staff (Michigan ACTS), an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers Michigan.
One of the core issues the teachers have been trying to address in this first contract is stabilizing the school community by reducing staff turnover. CCA is the largest charter school district in Michigan, with five campuses located across Detroit, and The Leona Group is one of the largest charter operators in the country. Like many charter schools, CCA has suffered from high staff turnover, prompting concerns from parents and community leaders and leading CCA-ACTS to propose a number of measures aimed at enhancing continuity and stabilizing the school community.
U.S. labor law requires The Leona Group/CCA to bargain any changes to working conditions with the union. The Leona Group’s decision to eliminate social worker positions constitutes a unilateral decision and is a violation of the law. Michigan ACTS has filed multiple Unfair Labor Practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
On Friday, November 1, at 3:45pm, teachers, staff, and supporters plan to demonstrate outside the CCA administration building at 4100 Martin in Detroit. They are demanding that the Leona Group bargain any reduction of staffing levels, and are also demanding that all employees who were impacted by these recent decisions be reinstated. Sign a petition in support of CCA educators here: http://bit.ly/CCA_Letter