From N. Berish, Chief Negotiator:
We are currently working with our Uniserv Director in regards to the TA (tentative agreement) we voted on and signed in late November. The school board approved this TA at their Nov. 28th meeting. The very next week, Matt brought bargainers to the table again to present us with a brand new contract. This contract takes out all subjects that are no longer “acceptable topics of bargaining”. Your building reps do have copies for you to see — nine pages of language removed. We have always agreed to discuss the language changes that may need to occur because of new laws. This has not happened. Your bargaining team have been pleading to keep items in the contract, and if they do have to come out, we want board policy to replace them so that all members are being treated fairly.
The following email exchange is our last contact with Matt:
> As you know, the bargaining team has not been comfortable with the idea of “taking out” language from the contract since we saw the proposed version. We do understand that it is no longer bargain able, however, we still feel strongly about simply not signing away language that can have dire effects on our members in the future.
> The members have voted on the TA in regards to financials. Regardless of where we are with language discussions, this should be honored (as it was approved by the school board Nov 28th). Our feelings on this is that members should be receiving election forms for PD day/ $100 bonus as well as actual contracts to sign. The language issue is separate as it was presented to us AFTER vote occurred.
> We do prefer to continue having conversations with you and our team on the matter of language. We would like to work towards areas of compromise as even stated in the MASB newsletters we have read. A possibility could be to explore creating board policies to speak to all items the board feels “need” to come out of the contract language. Our concern is having these items addressed in policy so that all members and situations that arise will be handled the same way and fairly.
> We would like to meet with your bargaining team at your earliest opening. We have asked Ana to attend this meeting also, so if you would like to invite Mr. Champion, we understand and look forward to working on this together.
> Now comes the hard part… times..? The bargaining team would prefer to stay in our classrooms as much as possible, if that is possible.
Matt’s response was as follows:
That is very disappointing to hear Nicole. We can meet throughout the rest of the year and the language is staying out. It is the new reality handed to us from Lansing. We will not move forward with the TA until we have a signed contract. Please work with Shauna to set up a time to meet.
As you can see, he and their bargaining team is not interested in working with us on resolving this matter.
What does this mean to you? Wish I had all the answers. Our Uniserv Director does feel we have and Unfair Labor Practice. We will meet with Matt at the earliest possibility of their entire team and ours. If he still feels that they will not honor the TA we signed and the board voted, we will file that day for an ULP. Until then, we are not saying time for full crisis mode. We are waiting for guidance from our UD and MEA legal.
I do think it is important to keep doing what you are doing. I know this is a difficult time for everyone and not having a TA, like we thought we did, is beyond describable. As we have said before, things in this bargaining cycle are things we have never really seen happen and never thought would.
I will send a copy of the MASB Newsletter to everyone also. You will be able to see that they are clearly following that playbook and want to show us their power.
I do advise people to make sure they follow the contract… in this time of tension I do anticipate Matt advising principals to make our lives difficult. This could come in all forms, so although you do not feel like you are treated professionally, take the high road and prove we are the better group, the stronger group and keep doing the great job you do DAILY!
As soon as we know something, we will get back to you.