Traverse City Record-Eagle

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August 31, 2013

TCEA to hold Labor Day vote

TRAVERSE CITY — Members of the Traverse City Education Association will vote on a union contact proposal from Traverse City Area Public Schools on Labor Day.

The national holiday was created by Congress in the late 19th century to honor the labor movement and the social and economic achievements of American workers, according to the federal Department of Labor.

Both parties declined to speculate about whether union members will approve the district’s most recent proposal.

“I’m not going to make any assumptions about how the vote is going to go,” TCAPS Human Resources Executive Director Christine Davis said.

TCEA President Mary McGee-Cullen also declined comment on the possible outcome, but she said union officials are preparing to file a fact finding petition with the Michigan Employee Relations Commission, possibly as early as next week.

Fact finding is the second impasse resolution procedure after mediation provided by Michigan’s public sector labor laws, according to a MERC labor relations law guide.

It involves a MERC-appointed neutral fact finder holding a hearing at which both parties present facts and witnesses in support of their positions, the guide states. Such hearing usually are public, and the parties receive an objective report on their bargaining positions after they conclude.

Fact finding reports are not binding. Parties often return to negotiations or mediation after a report is issued.

TCEA and TCAPS representatives already met with a state mediator several times last month in an effort to reach a contract resolution. There are no additional mediation sessions scheduled, but McGee-Cullen said the union is open to holding more.

“We are always willing to meet,” McGee-Cullen said.

The Monday vote is on a board of education proposal that covers two years and includes 1 percent annual raises, horizontal movement for educational credits and a one-year step increase in the 2013-14 school year, among other provisions. It also requires that employees receive either a highly effective or effective rating on their annual evaluations to qualify for an additional step increase in 2014-15.

McGee-Cullen said a state mediator requested the negotiating parties not comment on the proposal.

The proposal will go before the TCAPS Board of Education for final approval if a majority of voting TCEA members support it.

It is available for review at tcaps.net.

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