Improving the Language in Collective Bargaining Agreements

Every word in a collective bargaining agreement is critical. Each negotiated clause and phrase can have a tremendous impact on a school district's operations, the morale of its employees, and ultimately, the education of the children entrusted to it. Because arbitrators must interpret a contract based primarily on its language, every district's negotiating team should prepare by thoroughly reviewing all contract language to determine current applicability.

This analysis is based on a review of the collective bargaining agreements from each of Michigan's 583 public school districts. Although there exist a great number of identified problems, this section focuses on eight key areas that present the greatest opportunity to significantly improve the agreements and thereby improve educational quality. Each of these eight areas is discussed in detail below, along with recommendations for strengthening, removing, or otherwise improving contract language.