Nearly every aspect of a teacher's job falls under the rules of a union contract. The following is a synopsis of just one of those agreements in Michigan. It comes from Western School District near Jackson, which employs 180 teachers and enrolls 2,900 students. Of its $22 million operating budget (excluding capital expenditures and debt services), 90 percent goes to pay employee compensation. 

Although the average teacher salary in Western is less the state average of $57,000, teachers in the district have some of the most lucrative health insurance plans in the state. The premiums for these plans cost $17,300, of which the district pays the entire amount. Plus, teachers choosing not to enroll district's medical plan get a $2,400 annual "cash-in-lieu" payment on top of dental, vision, long-term disability and life insurance. The average health insurance family premium in Michigan is $11,300

Teacher salaries are determined by a single salary schedule that effectively creates annual automatic raises based solely an employee's years of experience and graduate degrees. In Western, these automatic annual pay raises are usually 3 to 5 percent, but the final "step" on the schedule yields a whopping 10 percent automatic pay bump. In addition to these steps, the entire salary schedule increases as negotiated in the union contract. This year Western's salary schedules increased 1.5 percent. 

The union contract also includes bonus pay, which ranges from $400 to $11,900 per year for additional academic certifications or duties. Teachers can also earn more by participating in extracurricular activities. These extra duties pay anywhere between $400 and $7,100 annually. 

Finally, the contract covers the working conditions as well, like the required number of working hours per year and limitations on class sizes. Teachers are required to be at school for a total of 1,326 hours per year. The national average is 1,792. For oversize classes (more than 28 students), teachers are paid $12 per student per day, for a maximum of two students. 

A fully detailed analysis can be found here.