TRAVERSE CITY — Public school students in Traverse City return to school today while their teachers return to their classrooms without a contract.
Members of the Traverse City Education Association, which represents about 550 teachers, nurses, social workers and counselors, overwhelmingly rejected a proposed two-year contract in a Labor Day vote held at a nearly full Traverse City Central High School auditorium Monday night, said TCEA President Mary McGee-Cullen.
“It was very impressive,” McGee-Cullen said. “They know how important this is and they know the history of the labor movement and they will not be stepped on.”
Union representatives and Traverse City Area Public Schools officials have been negotiating over a new contract for months. An independent state mediator recently joined the negotiating process in an attempt to forge an agreement.
The proposal that union members voted down Monday came from that mediator, TCAPS Human Resources Executive Director Christine Davis said.
“This proposal was a proposal from the state mediator and it was a fair one,” Davis said.
The proposal, which can be viewed at tcaps.net, 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 she would not discuss specific details of the contract per the mediator’s request.
Davis said district officials will keep working with TCEA representatives to reach a solution. She said no further sessions with the state mediator were scheduled as of Monday night.
McGee-Cullen said the two parties will continue to work through the state mediator.
The district’s current contract with the union expired late last month. TCEA members will continue to work under the terms of that agreement until a new contract is reached.