Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 23, 2013

Millage defeat hits contract talks

BY MATT TROUTMAN mtroutman@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City Area Public Schools administrators this week pulled a teacher raise proposal from the bargaining table amid oft-contentious contract talks with its largest employee union.

The move came about two weeks after district voters defeated a $35.2 million bond proposal. A TCAPS official said the contract offer change came as a result of the bond defeat.

District leaders sent a revised contract proposal this week to the Traverse City Education Association, which represents the schools’ teachers, nurses, social workers and counselors. TCAPS Human Resource Executive Director Christine Davis said school board members approved changes only in the two-year contract’s salary section.

“The reason we’ve revised the proposal is we’ve had a material change to the financial condition of the district as a direct result of the (defeated) two bond proposals,” Davis said. “Now we need to revise our capital plan.”

The revised contract, which can be viewed at tcaps.net, eliminates two raises proposed in the contract talks: a 1 percent raise tied to yearly teacher performance and a $200 raise for teachers at the highest step level in the 2013-14 school year.

Davis said union leaders previously didn’t support tying raises to teacher performance. She said the contract won’t affect step increases teachers already receive on a yearly basis.

Interim TCEA President Jeff Leonhardt said he couldn’t comment until after he could speak with the union’s bargaining team.

The current contract between the TCEA and the district expired in August, but union members continue to work for the district under the terms of the old contract. The union rejected a prior contract proposal in a Labor Day vote.

The Michigan Employee Relations Commission approved a union request for a fact-finding, an impasse resolution procedure that occurs after mediation between two parties winds down. Davis said the first meetings with the MERC-appointed fact finder likely will occur in January.

The fact-finder will give a non-binding recommendation within 60 days of the fact-finding session.