NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Hundreds of school employees from some of New York City’s poorest neighborhoods are joining the ranks of the unemployed.
Teacher unions railed against the Department of Education and Mayor Michael Bloomberg after more than 700 teacher aids and support staff were handed pink slips. Friday was the last day of class for laid off workers, including Cliftonia Johnson, a 13-year veteran of the DOE and an outreach specialist at Montevalley High School.
“To be put out on the street like this, I am extremely angry,” she told CBS 2′s Kathryn Brown. “Somebody needs to do something about this and truly investigate what’s going on.”
This is the largest number of city workers to be laid off at one time since Mayor Bloomberg took office. Department officials said the cuts will save $35 million.
“So my heart goes out to these workers but I also have a responsibility to make sure we have a balanced budget at DOE, and we knew that we had to make cuts and unfortunately these approximately 700 workers are the result of that,” explained City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.
Teacher unions are protesting the layoffs, saying they unfairly affect minorities and the city’s poorest schools.
“Seven hundred plus members will no longer be employed. The unemployment rolls will now have an addition,” said Santos Crespo, president of Local 372. “Why did this happen? And why is it happening in the poorest of communities? The largest amount of these layoffs are occurring in communities of color.”
The City Council will hold a hearing on the layoffs next week and educators told Brown they plan to show up en masse to protest.
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