Traverse City Record-Eagle

August 26, 2013

TCAPS, union to negotiate today

BY MICHAEL WALTON mwalton@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A state mediator will oversee a contract negotiation session between Traverse City Area Public Schools and the district’s largest employee union today.

Representatives from the two parties and the mediator are scheduled to meet from 9 a.m. to noon, roughly one week before TCAPS students return to class Sept. 3. Today’s meeting marks the third time a mediator has been involved in negotiations since contract talks began last spring.

TCAPS Human Resources Executive Director Christine Davis said the mediator has helped both parties narrow down negotiating points and move toward a settlement.

”We’ve met twice with him already and we’re hopeful we’ll get a settlement soon,” she said.

Mary McGee-Cullen, president of the Traverse City Education Association, said union officials hope to reach a contract resolution before the start of the school year.

“The TCEA looks forward to our mediation session Monday,” she said last week.

The TCEA represents roughly 550 teachers, nurses, social workers and counselors.

The current contract between the TCEA and the district expires Saturday, but union members will continue to work for the district under the terms of the old contract if an agreement is not reached before then. Michigan’s Public Employment Relations Act outlaws strikes by public employees including teachers.

Once TCAPS officials and TCEA representatives reach a tentative agreement, that agreement is presented to TCEA members for a vote. A tentative agreement must be approved by a majority of voting TCEA members.

A tentative agreement approved by the TCEA membership then goes to the TCAPS Board of Education for final approval.

The TCEA is scheduled to hold a general membership meeting tonight at Traverse City Central High School at 6:30 p.m.

Contract proposals from each party can be reviewed by visiting TCAPS.net and clicking the union contract negotiations button on the right side of the page.

Proposals from both parties eliminate clauses that outline the mandatory payment of union fees or dues.

Such clauses are now illegal in public sector employee contracts, based on Michigan’s controversial right-to-work law that Republicans lawmakers pushed through the legislative process during last year’s lame-duck session.