New Contract Approved

November 22, 2011

The ballots have been counted and the membership has voted to approve the tentative agreement for this school year. This is a one-year contract only, and will expire on June 30, 2012. The school board has to also approve it, and will vote on Monday, November 28. I’ve never seen the board vote “no” when we voted “yes” so it’s a safe bet that the TA arrangement will stand as our new contract covering the rest of this year.

The good news, of course, is that those of you who should have received a wage increase because of your advancement on the steps — essentially your willingness to remain a “valued member of the Parchment School District” — will now get some of the money to which you are entitled. Those of you who have not been expecting a step-based pay increase will get something, but not very much.

The vote was not unanimous. Contract votes rarely are. As a member of the bargaining team, I can tell you that we brought this agreement to you with a lot of fear and trembling, because we know it’s not a great deal. Yes, other area teachers have actually accepted pay cuts over the last year or two, and many have seen a reduction in the steps like we have. But it’s hard to feel valued when the district cannot (or will not) put a financial price on your value.

So that’s the bad news. Some of you are not happy with the settlement and perhaps not happy with the bargainers.

I would urge you who are not happy to turn that emotion into positive action. We are in this contract mess because of the men and women in Lansing who changed the rules of the game — no more automatic step increases, no say in how we are evaluated, no tenure protection, and giant cuts to school funding. As soon as you get the chance, vote for candidates who actually support the job you do. Consider donating to political parties or funds. Write letters to those in office now. Speak to family, friends and neighbors about the so-called shared sacrifices that have hit you and your family personally.

If those activities aren’t enough to dispel your unhappiness, you can go even further. Volunteer to be a PEA building rep, run for an executive board position, or ask to become a part of the bargaining team and have a personal voice at the table. We are not a large local association, but we do have many people performing two or three association jobs when other teachers are just as capable. None of us who have served the association had any really clear idea of what we were getting ourselves into when we stepped up, but all of us have been rewarded by knowing that our work helped, even in small ways, make the teaching experience of a colleague a little better.

I know that I personally benefited from having a building rep who sat with me in a thorny meeting with a principal about 25 years ago. I was pretty new at the job and could have been pushed around by the administrator, but that rep by my side made sure he didn’t go too far.

So don’t sell yourself short — there are plenty of others out there willing to do that for you — and consider taking a more active/involved role in the association that won tenure rights, evaluation language, salary scales, and many other contract items many years ago. The administration doesn’t just hand its employees a contract like the one we have. There are plenty of teachers who don’t have a critical needs bank or sick leave bank or severance pay or many other things that we take for granted. These things were won over the years by bargaining teams who also faced stubborn and (at times) stingy school boards.

Let’s make the best of this current situation and work together (like we did during our week of protest) to get the message out: Parchment teachers care and are worth paying fairly. Let’s get the community on our side before we go back to the bargaining table.


Tentative Agreement

November 17, 2011

Click the link at the top of this page to read the details of the tentative agreement your bargaining team has brought to membership for a vote. Voting will take place in your building, beginning Friday, November 18 and ending Tuesday, November 21 at 3:00 p.m. The green buckets will be collected Tuesday afternoon and the ballots counted. We will send information on the vote results via both school and home e-mail, and post the results here as well.

Please look over the agreement and forward any questions or concerns to your building rep or one of the bargaining team members (Carol B / Tim S at the HS; Tom N / Nicole B at the MS). It is appropriate to use school e-mail to send your questions.

Remember to vote!

Tentative Agreement

November 14, 2011

Your bargaining team reached an agreement with the administration at the negotiating session on Monday, Novenber 14. The agreement is substantially the same as the PEA’s last proposal, made during mediation on September 28. The complete details of this tentative agreement, on which all members will vote, will be shared with the membership at the PEA board meeting on Thursday, November 17 at Central Elementary (3:50 p.m.).

If you are unable to attend, your building representative will have complete details for you Friday. We will hold balloting in your buildings on Friday, Nov. 18 through Tuesday, November 22. We will inform you of the vote results as soon as possible, via this website and your home e-mails.

The agreement is certainly not as good as your bargainers would have wanted, but is an improvement over the administration’s previous positions. As we hear of other associations forced to take major concessions, we feel this settlement moves us in the right direction rather than backwards.

How you feel about the agreement will be for you to decide after the complete details are announced. Please make every effort to attend Thursday’s meeting, so your questions can be answered by members of the bargaining team.

Negotiations Resume

November 12, 2011

Your bargaining team has received another proposal from the administration — approved by the school board on the same day we were told not to wear our PEA shirts! (Looks like we got someone’s attention.)

We are meeting Monday, November 7th at 2:40. We will let you know the results of the session as soon as possible.

Keep up the good work!

Protected: Our Next Steps

November 9, 2011

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Let the World Know!

November 5, 2011

We begin letting our community know how we feel about the contract situation Monday. Building staff members plan to walk in together at the contractual reporting time. At the end of the day, they will leave together as well.

The administration and board of education needs to know — and they will soon — that taking away our steps, as if working for a year doesn’t count, is NOT acceptable.

We understand money problems, but we don’t see the need for this extreme position. There are other ways to balance the budget.

Tuesday we fire the second shot by wearing our red PEA shirts and again walk in together in the morning. If they don’t get the message by Tuesday afternoon (can you picture the staff meetings in red?) they may never get it!

Be sure to join your fellow members in this show of unity and protest. We can get them back to the table with a better offer.