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

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Detroit Public Schools
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Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager Roy Roberts

Update 3:52 pm:

Roy Roberts' budget plan submitted 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.

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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 to create a new district that 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 Radio’s Director of Enterprise & Longform, helping reporters to do their best work.