School support staff may not get paid if teachers walk out in April
TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) -- Lawmakers haven't come up with a plan to keep teachers in school on April 2, but there are ideas being tossed around behind closed doors. Should a walkout happen, some school support staff may not get paid if they aren't at work.
People like bus drivers, maintenance workers and janitors could suffer if a walkout were to happen, and while many of them support the teachers, the protest could hurt them the most.
Annie Macdowell is a Tulsa Public School bus driver.
"Almost nine years," Macdowell said. She's an hourly employee, like most of the support staff, which means if schools close for a teacher walkout, she doesn't get paid.
"It is hard on a person that is the sole provider of the house, that all the bills come in their name, and they aren't working," Macdowell said.
With plans for a school shutdown if the teachers walk out, Macdowell said, "We are screwed no matter how you look at it."
It's a scary thought for Macdowell and the nearly 2,100 other workers like her.
"We are fulfilling our contract," support staff union president Ed McIntosh said. "If it says to report to work, we are reporting to work."
McIntosh says he'll do everything he can to keep his members working, even during the walkout.
"Simply because they cannot sustain a long-term deal without being paid," McIntosh said.
"If there was a way we could work, even just six hours instead of eight hours," Macdowell said.
Macdowell and her co-workers do stand with the teachers.
"I am all for what the teachers are doing," Macdowell said, but she hopes the important work she does every day doesn't get pushed aside.
"We would probably do anything we can to help ourselves and still support everybody else," Macdowell said.
Support staff plan to join teachers at the Capitol on April 2 if no deal is made.
We reached out to Tulsa Public Schools about what this means for support staff, and the district says they are still looking at potential solutions but have not yet made any decisions.