Traverse City Record-Eagle

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May 15, 2014

State fact-finding report recommends in TCAPS' favor

TRAVERSE CITY — A state-appointed fact-finder weighed in on a longstanding contract dispute between Traverse City Area Public Schools and the district’s teachers union.

Barry Ott’s recommendation that was released on Wednesday includes no salary increase for this year and a 2-percent salary increase for 2014-15, in addition to salary step increases.

“Such an adjustment represent a salary schedule increase of 1% per-year over the two-year period and in my opinion is within the District’s ability to pay,” the report states.

Chris Davis, TCAPS’ executive director of human resources, said school board members and administrators are pleased with the report’s findings.

“The fact-finder’s salary recommendation is consistent with the board’s parameters and is in line with the 1 percent salary increase other TCAPS employee groups agreed to for 2013-14 and 2014-15,” Davis said.

The report is a non-binding recommendation, but it’s something both sides have been waiting to see.

District administrators and Traverse City Education Association leaders, which represent roughly 550 teachers, nurses, social workers and counselors, have negotiated a new contract for more than a year.

Negotiations began in March 2013, and union leaders filed a fact-finding petition on Sept. 17, according to the report. The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ Employment Relations Commission appointed Ott as fact-finder on Nov. 14.

TCEA proposed a 4 percent “off schedule” compensation increase this year, a 4 percent salary increase next year, and additional compensation for educational credits and step increases for each year of continued employment with TCAPS.

Ott concluded that TCAPS simply can’t afford the proposed increase.

“In the opinion of the fact finder, the salary proposal advanced by the Association significantly exceeds the District’s available financial resources to pay the costs associated with the proposal,” the report states. “The costs would virtually reduce the general fund balance to a dangerously low level.”

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