GR teachers sign contract

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Grand Rapids Public Schools teachers will receive a 2 percent raise in 2009-1010 but pay more for health care benefits under a tentative contract agreement they ratified in voting this week, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

The four-year contract is retroactive to 2007-2008 and extends to 2010-2011; salary is the only item that can be renegotiated in the fourth year, The Press reported. Grand Rapids Education Association members will pay $900 toward the cost of health care premiums, as well as pay annual deductibles and higher copays for office visits and prescription drugs, according to The Press.

The district agreed to add another step to the salary schedule, effectively giving long-term teachers with master's degrees a one-half percent raise, The Press reported. About half the district's teachers will benefit. Elementary teachers also will receive more planning time.

"There won't be dancing in the streets of Grand Rapids because of this contract," said GREA President Paul Helder, The Press reported.

The district school board was to meet today to vote on the agreement; district officials are holding comment pending that vote, according to The Press.

The Press reported that teachers feared that if the agreement was not ratified, then the district would impose a less favorable contract.

The agreement was approved in a 727-237 vote; 540 eligible members did not cast ballots, The Press reported. An additional 120 were ineligible to vote because of unpaid union dues and 30 have non-voting membership in the union.

The Grand Rapids Press, "Grand Rapids Education Association ratifies tentative pact with Grand Rapids Public Schools," Aug. 18, 2009

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Michigan School District Collective Bargaining Agreements, "Agreement between the Board of Education of Grand Rapids Public Schools and the Grand Rapids Education Association, 2006-2007."