GR teachers: Let us decide pay, insurance

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Grand Rapids teachers have proposed that Grand Rapids Public Schools turn over control of a percentage of its annual budget to them, and let the union set pay and benefits for its own members, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

The suggested agreement, believed to be the first collective bargaining proposal of its kind in Michigan, calls for the district to let the union decide how to spend about 57 percent of general operating revenue, the amount generally designated for the classroom, The Press reported.

"Give us the budget, and we will live within our means," union President Paul Helder told The Press. The last contract expired more than a year ago and negotiations have been contentious.

Lisa Freiburger, the chief of operations for the district, called the proposal "complicated, but very intriguing," according to The Press. She said the dollars designated for classroom use cover items other than salaries and benefits, such as textbooks, but that those issues don't rule out discussing the proposal, the article said.

The Grand Rapids Press, "Grand Rapids teachers' union pitches new approach to solve contract dispute," Oct. 23, 2008

Michigan Education Digest, "Grand Rapids contract still unresolved," Sept. 23, 2008