Letter to MDPS Teachers on June 20, 2012
To the MDPS Faculty,
The past several weeks have filled our school community with excitement due to the graduation of the Class of 2012 from Madison High School and Community High School, as well ascompleting another school year. Students have been thrilled to complete this important journey and family members have been rightfully proud. With that in mind, I wanted to send to you a quick update as to what is happening within the district regarding negotiations between the association and the district.
I realize I have come into these negotiations at the last minute, but know there has been a lot of discussion between the MEA and the district. In fact, since 2009, the District and the MEA have met over thirty times to discuss how to accomplish a contract that balances the priority of valuing faculty and your financial needs as well as the priority of being financially responsible as a district.
As you know, in November of2011, a neutral fact finders report recommended that the school district have in reserve ten percent of its annual budget in an unreserved general fund balance. With those parameters understood and in place, we began talking againon June 7.
With your union leadership present, MDPS Business Manager Michelle Schurman and I had a positive conversation regarding the school calendar and possible insurance improvements that would save you in healthcare costs. The district also proposed a 7% reduction in salary through the 2012-13 school-year and immediately ending the retroactive pay reduction. For example, a teacher who is losing $350 per paycheck will only have a reduction of $95 with the new agreement. In addition, half of the retroactive pay reduction that has been assessed will be returned immediately.
I understand wanting other items such as receiving the full amount of the retroactive pay as well as step increases. Those requests would be made by any bargaining unit and are understandable. However, the fiscal health of the district lasts for more than one year and it is imperative that we operate with a positive budget each and every year.
As you also know, the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) postponed the hearing that was scheduled for the days of June 20 and 22 to only June 22 and a date to be determined in mid to late July. Any ruling we thought we may receive in early fall has been potentially delayed an additional month.
When we left our meeting on June 7, I know that both sides were both representing their parties in goodfaith and that we might arrive at an agreement. I still believe that and will look forward to the day when this is settled.
Posting April 16, 2012
As previously announced, on March 26, 2012, the Board of Education voted to implement a 10% wage reduction for members of the Madison Education Association. A few days later, on March 30, District representatives and Association representatives reached and signed the Tentative Agreement that may be accessed by clicking on this link. Unfortunately, the Association's members voted to reject the Tentative Agreement. Therefore, at last night's meeting, the Board of Education ratified its March 26 vote, 2012, which it had deferred implementing in light of the now-rejected Tentative Agreement. The reasons the Board has taken this step are explained in the posting dated March 26, 2012 immediately below.
The Board will continue to bargain in good faith toward a settlement of the contract, keeping in mind the needs of our children and current budgetary constraints. The Board trusts that while these negotiations are taking place, Association members will continue faithfully discharging their duties to the District and our children.
Posting March 26, 2012
You may be aware the District and the Madison Education Association have been bargaining to reach a successor to the collective bargaining agreement that expired on August 20, 2009. That bargaining proceeded in a number of stages. Initially, the parties' negotiators met by themselves, but failed to reach an agreement. Later, they were joined by a state appointed mediator. Still, no agreement was reached.
Last summer, the state appointed a neutral Fact Finder to review the parties' positions and issue non-binding recommendations. The Fact Finder's Report was issued on November 9, 2011 and may be accessed by clicking on this link. The parties continued to negotiate after receiving the Fact Finder's Report but, still, were not able to reach an agreement.
The District believes the parties' inability to reach an agreement is due, in part, to the fact the District has asked for a reduction in the salaries of Association members. The District understands why the Association does not want to agree to the District's proposal. At the same time, the District's funding from the state has been reduced, other employee groups have agreed to reductions and the District is legally prohibited from operating at a deficit. Therefore, the Board of Education believes it has a legal and moral duty to the community to take financially prudent steps now; rather than permitting its finances to fall into deficit. Put differently, the Board believes it would be irresponsible to wait for the state to step in with an Emergency Financial Manager, as it has in Detroit and Muskegon.
For these reasons, last night the Board voted to implement a 10% wage reduction for Association members. The Board's resolution may be accessed by clicking this link. The District wishes to emphasize its continuing duty to bargain in good faith with the Association. The final agreement may differ from the resolution the Board passed last night. Moreover, the Board’s representatives are available to meet with the Association’s representative between now and the effective date of the Board’s resolution.
The Board and the District trust that, while these negotiations are taking place, the Association's members will continue to perform their duties professionally and for the benefit of the District's students. The District understands the disappointment the Association's members may experience as a result of the Board's decision. Nevertheless, the Board and the District expect all District employees to focus on their service to the District's students.