Union says book deal violated contract

HASTINGS, Mich. — The Hastings School District and its teachers union are close to settling a dispute over whether the district was right to purchase two textbooks written by the former union president as part of a retirement incentive, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

The Hastings Education Association said the district violated its collective bargaining agreement with the union when it paid Laurence Christopher $75,000 as part of a retirement incentive that also included purchase of two textbooks he wrote for high school economics and government classes, according to The Press.

Christopher, who taught those subjects in the district for 25 years, was acting union president at the time, The Press reported. He was not available for comment, according to The Press.

The Michigan Education Association filed an unfair labor practice charge in December alleging that the district negotiated a separate retirement agreement for Christopher. The board approved his economics textbook, which has been in use for three years; the government text was not approved through proper committees, the union alleged.

One proposed resolution would rescind the contract and licensing agreement between the district and Christopher Productions, which Christopher established in 2007, The Press reported. That would eventually lead to the district stopping use of both books, according to The Press, which are in use in four other Michigan districts.

The proposed settlement says Christopher is entitled to about $30,819 in retirement incentive benefits, according to The Press.

The Grand Rapids Press, “Hastings teachers union proposes settlement over textbook complaint,” Feb. 24, 2011

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Teachers face retirement choices,” May 14, 2010