In the Richmond School District, the teachers’ union contract has been expired for almost two years. The Board of Education recently declared an impasse in negotiations and instituted a 9.5 percent pay cut over the last 16 days of the school year.
Richmond superintendent Linda Olson said that if the negotiations had been allowed to drag on any longer, the district would have been responsible for another year of contractually obligated raises that range from 4.5 to 5.0 percent. Olson said that she hoped a new deal could be completed before the fall to replace the board-imposed deal.
Jane Cassady, the Michigan Education Association representative for the district, said in an email that the union has filed an unfair labor practice against the district. She said there is a Michigan Employment Relations Commission hearing scheduled for June 3.
Richmond borders Macomb and St. Clair counties.
Expired union deals are becoming problematic for school districts looking to cut costs. Many teachers continue to get “step” raises under expired deals and aren’t obligated to pay any extra for the increasing cost of health insurance.
That soon could change, however.
The Michigan Legislature has passed a bill that ends step increases and requires employees pick up the tab for any increase in health care costs during expired contracts. House Bill 4152 has passed the House and Senate and is awaiting either signature or veto from the governor.
At Richmond, the teachers’ contract expired Aug. 29, 2009. Under terms of the expired deal, the school district continues to pay 100 percent of the health insurance premium cost. Teachers with less than 10 years experience also have received raises ranging from 4.5 to 5.0 percent.
East China School District has a similar situation. The East China teachers’ contract expired Aug. 25, 2010.
“There is no incentive for the union to settle, at least for the people on the steps cycle,” said East China superintendent Rodney Green.
Green said he settled a new contract with his teachers’ union on May 17. Although he says he got concessions from the unions on health care cost sharing and reducing step increases, he would have preferred House Bill 4152 to have been signed into law and “in my back pocket.”
“It will totally change the way bargaining works,” Green said.
According to the bill analysis from the Michigan House Fiscal Agency, House Bill 4152 was opposed by both of the state’s largest teacher unions: the Michigan Education Association and the Michigan affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.
Every Democrat in the Michigan Legislature voted against the bill.
There were five Republican senators who voted with Democrats against the bill: Tom Casperson of Escanaba, Bruce Caswell of Hillsdale, Rick Jones of Grand Ledge, Mike Nofs of Battle Creek and Tory Rocca of Sterling Heights.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy. He and most other Republicans in the Michigan Legislature voted in favor of it.
The HFA analysis also lists the following organizations as supporters of the bill:
- The Michigan Association of School Boards
- The Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators-Region 8
- The Michigan Association of School Administrators (MASA)
- The Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators (MAISA)
- Royal Oak Schools
- The Thrun Law Firm
- The Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce
- The Small Business Association of Michigan
- Wayne Regional Education Services Administration (RESA)
- Oakland Schools
- The Michigan Elementary, Middle, and Secondary Principals Association (MEMSPA)
- The National Federation of Independent Business