It appears, at times, that the Manistique area teachers' union
contract has been a source of discouragement for local talent that
have the skills, desire and local support to coach extra curricular
activities, within the Manistique Area Schools district. The following
article was conceived as I witnessed the M.A.S. Board choose a 9th
grade girls basketball coach. That choice was based, not on the merits
of the applicants involved, but upon the fear of legal reprisal from
the teachers' union.
Some of the following may be dry technical details to some, but it provides, from my point of view, justification for a serious look at policies that need to be changed. This article is a work in progress, as I consider and refine the language to express the essence of the concepts involved in the ongoing controversy.
There exists a document titled:
Professional Agreement Between the Manistique Area Schools Board of Education and the Upper Peninsula Educational Association and the Michigan Education Association
Within that document are the terms of a teachers' employment contract between the Teachers Association, a union representing the teachers of Manistique Area Schools, and the Manistique Area Schools Board. The document is valid from the years 2000 to 2005.
A specific term, F., of that contract, under Article IX on page 9, states the following:
"All extra duty positions not held by bargaining unit members shall be posted annually. All extra duty position appointments are made contingent upon the activity being sponsored by the district. If an activity is cancelled or not scheduled for any reason, the employee will be paid on a pro rata basis for his or her services."
On 06/20/01, I tried to engage Mike Powers, a union representative, in a conversation about the contract language above and the issues considered below. In a short and cordial exchange, he told me that it was not in the best interests of the union's position to discuss details of the union's interpretation of the contract, that is at odds with the view shared by the M.A.S. Board of Education and the M.A.S. administration.
As a consequence of union representative silence, my view of the situation is incomplete. As incomplete as it may be, it is a fairly comprehensive view of the concepts and logic in a long term disagreement that has, like many other long term community disagreements, generated considerable community ill will, and will continue to generate more until the issue(s) are dealt with and disposed of in an honest and open manner. My concerns are with the ideas that fuel the controversy, not the individuals or organizations that espouse them.
So, what? You might ask.
Over the years, I was aware of employment problems related to various Manistique High School coaches and claims of the teachers' union. I paid no attention to the details of those controversies.
At the M.A.S. Board of Education meeting of 06/18/01, I watched and listened as board members discussed details of hiring a 9th grade girls basketball coach. The Board's decision process was made under the acknowledged duress of possible litigation from the teachers' union. The painful choice the Board had to make was to choose between re- hiring non-union Ms. Cheryl Vaughn, with 4 years of satisfactory experience, and union member Mr. Gary Matelski, a mathematics teacher that applied for the same extra duty position. A 5 to 1 vote to hire Mr. Matelski followed board member discussion of the possible legal consequences of voting against a union interpretation of its contact with the Manistique Area Schools Board.
Extra duty positions are those outside of regular teaching assignments required to meet state mandated educational requirements. Such positions might be the extracurricular drama or basketball coach that provide coaching after regular curriculum hours.
It appears that, by the use of perverse logic and/ or arbitrary redefinition of common use English words and syntax, the Teachers Association union reached the conclusion that its contract has meant, since around 1986, that any individual teacher has the right to an extra duty position filled by a non union individual, regardless of whether the current extra duty activity coach is deemed more competent or desirable by the school administration, the M.A.S. Board, and the community-at-large.
According to prevailing union contract interpretation, enforced by a union threat of litigation for some 15 years, a teachers union member may choose a child's extra curricular activity coach. A parent has no say in the matter. The school superintendent has no say in the matter. The M.A.S.Schools Board has no say in the matter. Policy, concerning extra duty positions, is determined by local union contract interpretation, by local membership, backed by the threat of legal recourse.
I.a.w. the union contract, Article VIII, term D., extra duty assignments, by the school superintendent are not obligatory, and are accepted by the individual union teacher, according to that teacher's personal agenda. The contract states nothing that defines the union members' right to extra duty positions held by non union members; or those unfilled. It does state, in term F., that non union extra duty positions must be publicized every year.
By no stretch of a civilized imagination can the contract mandated school administration advertisement of a position be construed to justify a union member's claim to the position. It is one thing to apply for a publicized, discretionary position; it is another to claim an undefined right to it.
With the currently accepted union comprehension of term F., the desires of the school superintendent, schools board, children, parents, or the public at large, are secondary to the personal desire of a Teachers Association union member. It is implied, by the prevailing union interpretation of the contract, that arcane knowledge is required for a true understanding of its terms.
"That's B.S.!", I say.
An 8th grade student should understand the English and concepts in contract term F. If there are any questions about logic, definitions or syntax within that term, consistent with the context of the contract, an 8th grade student or an educated adult would be able to provide a lucid explanation of term F's meaning, by using common reference literature. Considering that some 15 years of time has passed since the contentious term's genesis, it is obvious to me that the union's agenda does not include a meeting of the minds concerning the meaning of that term or any other term union representatives might choose to back membership claims to extra duty positions. Obfuscation has been promoted by local union representatives, to a degree that would make a shyster lawyer proud.
Contrary to prevailing union members' claims, I believe that, within the context of the union contract, conventional English word usage prevails.
It is my opinion that the meaning of:
"All extra duty positions not held by bargaining unit members shall be posted annually."
is nothing more than:
Information concerning extra curricular positions, not held by union members, shall be displayed in a public place, once a year.
ie. The names of all extra curricular positions, not held by union members, shall be displayed in a public place, once a year, for all prospective union applicants to read.
Obviously, it is not the extra duty position that is displayed, it is information concerning the position. It is impossible for most folk, including union members, to tack a concept to a bulletin board, to be removed by a union member and claimed as personal property, as a set of lost keys might be claimed.
It is my opinion that the meaning of:
"All extra duty position appointments are made contingent upon the activity being sponsored by the district."
means nothing more than:
All extra curricular positions depend upon the activity being sponsored by the school district.
ie. No one gets a position in a non existent activity.
It is my opinion that the meaning of:
"If an activity is cancelled or not scheduled for any reason, the employee will be paid on a pro rata basis for his or her services."
Means nothing more than:
If an extra curricular activity is cancelled or not scheduled for any reason, the union employee will be paid for services rendered up to the time the activity is cancelled or a decision is made to cancel a planned activity.
ie. M.A.S. will pay for all actual teacher services, whether a particular extra curricular program flies or dies.
To summarize, term F. states, in simple English, several points related to extra duty positions that the negotiating parties considered important enough to be included in the contact. Non of those points include union claims to extra duty positions, which, like all other important terms agreed to by the negotiating parties, are written into the contract.
Nowhere, in term F., is there an implication that union teachers have a contract right to any extra curricular activity positions.
The Manistique DPW employees union representative's claim, to city Summer part time jobs for their children, was bogus. The DPW's union flimflammed the City of Manistique for years, but after the sham was exposed, union determination or approval of job recipients ceased.
If the teachers union representatives' claim to extra duty positions is based, essentially on term F., its a bogus claim, based on the same kind of corrupted reasoning as the DPW's union.
If it is the Teachers Association contention that the union contract determines who the public will hire for extra curricular activity positions, then I want to know why it is not the case with most, if not all, other schools in the U.P.
What makes the Manistique community so unique to have accepted an apparently unsubstantiated and undesirable policy for so many years?
What is so unique about M.A.S. teachers that they feel compelled to support an apparently unsubstantiated and dictatorial policy?
If there are, somewhere else in the union contract, plain English terms that give union teachers the right to claim extra curricular activity positions, I will be more than happy to add them to this editorial. Such information may help bring understanding and closure to a festering disagreement that should have been settled many years ago.
Given my understanding of current union claims, if I was filled with the milk of human kindness, I would not consider any long term coaching commitment to M.A.S. extra curricular activities. I suspect that the "here today, gone tomorrow" future employment prospects are poor motivation for any non union talent the may lurk in the community.
If no plain English resolution of the disagreement is forthcoming, the current position by M.A.S. teachers stands, to me, as an apparent act of long term fraud, perpetrated by a group of local union representatives upon a generally ignorant and gullible community, including local union members. That there is no major dissent among the rank and file local union membership, to disassociate themselves from an apparently deceitful contract term interpretation, indicates dominant and submissive roles more suitable for savages with clubs than the educated elite of the community.
That the victims recognize that they are victimized, and accept the status quo for years, is an entirely different story.
Last night I read the leading article of the 06/21/01 edition of the Pioneer Tribune, and received an informative private e-mail from an individual well acquainted with the situation, and past union negotiations. Both sources provided background details I was unaware of. Those details reinforce my opinion(s) above, and provide more information that indicate teacher's union bad faith bargaining and ersatz interpretations.
To be fair, the M.A.S. Board is partly responsible by accepting unfounded union contract interpretation for so long. Like I said, that's another story. What the reader should be aware of, in this and most other similar controversies, is that each side of a contract negotiation has different goals and different resources to achieve them. Those goals are to maximize gains and minimize losses, from different perspectives for each negotiating party; be those goals tangible or intangible.
As the number one goal of the business world is to make money, and control the means, the teachers union marshals its resources for that purpose, among others. It hires a professional bargaining team to represent the business interests of a union membership of individuals that choose to make their living with their brains.
Consequentially, an elite and focussed force, with very narrow and selfish goals in mind, is aligned against the schools board, a melange of the general public, in part time, voluntary positions. The board members, a disparate group with varying skills and talents, represent their own perception of the public's shifting perception of what is right, today. Like it or not, the goals of the union and Board are, generally speaking, diametrically opposed to each other, and any claim to the contrary changes nothing.
If board members determine policy to be defined by contract terms, using little more than the intellectual skills and awareness required for the daily life of the average individual, I am not surprised if intellectual sharks dine, uninterrupted. Cruel, but true.
All of the above does not excuse a concept of unverifiable "implied terms" in a professionally bargained and written contract, that has existed, and been modified, for years. Implied terms may be read into a contract in order to make it workable at a practical level, primarily because it is obviously difficult to specify, in written form, every issue which might arise in an employment relationship. The term, that the union claims is implied, is so important to all parties, that everyone involved with the contract, over the years, has known of it, in its mutually considered form.
Just because the negotiating parties have failed to reach an agreement to include a considered term into the contract, for some 15 years, does not give either party the right to imply its existence into the contract at the other party's expense. It doesn't work that way for obvious reasons, and ignorance of the concept will not make it otherwise. Therefore, the union's claim is ludicrous. It is divorced from the history of the contract's evolution and denies the existence of very serious community opposition and the consequences of that opposition to the implied term's existence, implied or written.
That ignorant or naive public office holders can be deceived or coerced into making decisions, relative to baseless union claims, does not create an implied term.
If the bargaining team for the union membership desired autonomy over the choice of non-staff employees in extra duty positions, they had the organization and resources to state that term in the written contract, in a clear and concise fashion. Once again, an 8th grade student could have written that term. For example:
"Union membership reserves the right to all extra duty positions, to be filled at union members' discretion."
Chances are, there are some detailed legal changes required to that fictitious term, but it represents, in clear language, exactly what the union claims exists in its current contract, but fails to produce!
If a teachers union can do no better than to threaten a mixed bag of elected and appointed public servants, over a union claim to an "implied term" in a periodically reviewed and modified written contract; then, as one man sees it, the union membership have lowered themselves, intellectually and philosophically, to that of adolescent schoolyard thugs.
While thinking and taking notes, I read again, several times, the past history of the extra duty position hiring procedures, as reported in the 06/21/01 edition of the Pioneer Tribune. Assuming reporter Paul Olson got most of the facts of a convoluted issue correct, regardless of the less than forthright manner in which information may have been presented to him, I have a few comments regarding both sides of the issue and I will present them in the same sequence as the references in Paul's article.
Whether the union is "foot dragging" or not, is open to conjecture. As an organization that has it their way at the moment, they have nothing to gain, so, why hurry? As an organization that is composed mainly of members off doing other things, during the Summer break, I suspect there are more desirable things to do, until the Fall semester starts.
If a term is written into the contract, that states in a conventional English use manner, "school staff members have the right to take any extra duty assignment ... (and) the right to "bump"" existing extra duty position holders out of the job; show the public that term.
If "union officials maintain that the intent of the contract is for staff members to be given hiring preference" relative to extra duty positions, I ask, once again, show the public in plain written English. If the plain English version was left out, because the M.A.S. Board would never have accepted it, and the public would have hung them if they had, don't invent a non existent implied written term. Show the public your intent, in writing. After all, it is a professional written contract; or is it an implied contract, where only one party can imply major terms?
If some board members are "saying a position must be offered first to staff", show me that, too. To post a job in a public manner is not to offer first choice to union staff; at least by common use understanding of the English language. Show the public the written term that details "first choice to the union" for extra duty positions.
That an M.A.S. Board of individuals should be confused and inconsistent, is to be expected. Like it or not, contract bargaining is an intellectual discipline for which few possess all the tools. A failure to understand any part of the issues, language, logic and procedures will lead to a greater or lesser degree of "inconsistency", depending on the background of the various members. Contracting on behalf of the general public's interests, with a well organized group of "intellectual" self interested individuals, is a demanding one that requires attention to detail and a solid understanding of the concepts involved.
If sufficient board members with the required skills are not elected, or those members with the skills are run off, the union will eat the rest, alive, at public expense.
It was reported that, after last Fall's grievance hearing concerning union member Iwinski's claim to non-union Nelson's extra duty position, the Board voted, into its capitulation, a stipulation to reopen the extra duty issue for new negotiations. If the union is "dragging its feet" concerning the new negotiations, I might assume it was not bound by the Board's unilateral decision, or, if the decision was bilateral, it included no time table.
I am absolutely mystified why a majority of board members would give up Nelson's position and choose new negotiations of the extra duty issue that has not been shown to exist in the written contract, and has no implied existence! The union can speak of the emperor's new clothes, but I have yet to see them. By what magical optics and cranial processes is the union claim revealed? Where does the written contract state, in writing or by legal implication, a major term that comes close to the union's verbal claim to extra duty positions? I want to know! Hopefully, I will find past detailed reporting, by Paul Olson of the Pioneer Tribune, to dispel my confusion concerning Nelson's ousting.
If a union member must meet mandated state requirements, and school administrative requirements, to teach a state mandated curriculum, how is it that union membership alone is the only credential required to claim the right to an extra duty position necessary for a discretionary extra curricular activity? The facts of the matter, now, is that any union pretender has the right to an extra duty position, but for a formal curriculum position a competitive applicant must have established credentials.
If the hospital hosts "A Child's Introduction to Brain Surgery", can a music teacher claim the extra duty position held by the head surgeon?
I would suggest board members read and comprehend the part(s) of the contract that pertain to extra duties, as written and not imagined, and then do what has to be done, out in the fresh air.
My suggestion would be to make sure that control of extra duty positions remain under complete control of the schools board and administration. I have every reason to believe they do, now, by written contract. If extra duty positions have an incentive value to union members or non staff members, then the Board should guard them and use them wisely. The positions can be used to enhance the lives of deserving staff and non staff individuals that bring to the schools and community the best qualifications for those positions.
To the best of my limited knowledge, within the context of the disagreement between local union members and a confused and bullied schools board, the union has no more than a "pipe dream" claim to the achievements, goals and efforts of non union individuals that hold, or apply for, extra duty positions. It is obvious that union members are not likely to stop demanding that which they have not earned and to which they have no more than contrived claims. They "hooked" a schools board and have been playing that fish for years, and hopefully, the battle will end, sooner than later. The community cannot afford the ill will generated, and the dashed expectations and plans of students, parents and extra duty coaches.
I have yet to verify the information, but I was made aware that an arbitration hearing, if lost by the M.A.S. Board, would be paid, 100%, from school funds. The arbitration costs, I am told, are typically from $5,000 to $15,000. That money would be otherwise spent for typical education related expenses.
All Board choices, relative to extra duty positions, are held hostage, in part, to Board financial concerns about losing an arbitration decision.
As a consequence, it is a reasonable union policy point of view to maintain its claim and, as long as the Board gives the union membership what it wants, the status quo is acceptable to the union. That position gives the union a degree of respectability it does not deserve, and implies a bumbling Board.
If my appraisal of the current situation is anywhere close to correct, the next move is up to the Board. The union has what it wants, regardless of conflicting contract interpretations.
With my limited view of the scene, the Board has several possible choices:
1. Do nothing, thereby agreeing, by default, with the status quo and union claims.
2. File a grievance, get a hearing, and make a rational case, dealing with the merits of the situation.
3. Seek arbitration, and make a rational case based on the merits of the situation.
Based on my understanding of the past history, the union has shown, in public, no inclination or reason to change its position. Therefore a grievance hearing is of little to no consequence to the union's position, unless it is prepared to relinquish its claims.
If the parent organization, the Michigan Education Association, pays for litigation expenses, then the local union has little reason to fear arbitration. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
The Michigan Education Association has everything to gain, state wide, by having local union claims recognized as a consequence of arbitration.
For the Board, remaining with the status quo, is a no win situation, being nibbled to death by ducks.
For the Board, based on past history, it is a no win situation trying another grievance hearing procedure. As long as the union maintains its right to extra duty positions, nothing changes and the union keeps the Board and administration in line with threats of litigation.
For the Board, the most likely way to resolve the issue, for better or worse, is by the use of binding arbitration. ie. The current stalemate will be resolved, for better or worse, by spending money; hopefully the union's
Whatcha gonna do?
I felt compelled to do a little research concerning legislation relative to the unresolved extra duty issue between the Michigan Education Association local of Manistique and the M.A.S. Board. For those that wish to take a stand against unjustified union member threats and an unfounded fear of M.E.A. legal retribution, the references below might instill sufficient backbone into what appears to be, to this member of the public, as a board of bumbling milquetoasts.
Michigan Compiled Laws MCL 423.215
PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS (EXCERPT)
Act 336 of 1947
423.215 Collective bargaining; duties of employer and employees' representative; subjects; prohibitions. [M.S.A. 17.455(15) ] Sec. 15. (1) A public employer shall bargain collectively with the representatives of its employees as defined in section 11 and is authorized to make and enter into collective bargaining agreements with such representatives. Except as otherwise provided in this section, for the purposes of this section, to bargain collectively is the performance of the mutual obligation of the employer and the representative of the employees to meet at reasonable times and confer in good faith with respect to wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment, or the negotiation of an agreement, or any question arising under the agreement, and the execution of a written contract, ordinance, or resolution incorporating any agreement reached if requested by either party, but this obligation does not compel either party to agree to a proposal or require the making of a concession.
Note. The above states, clearly, good faith bargaining shall be conducted, but "it does not compel either party to agree to a proposal or require the making of a concession."
The following might make appropriate reading for those that cannot make up their minds if the Michigan Educational Association local a.k.a. Manistique Teachers Union, is taking advantage of ignorant and groveling M.A.S. Board members. I have quoted several pertinent parts, below the URL. Parts not quoted might still be of interest.
Port Huron Education Association v Port Huron Area School District
"Public Employment - Unfair Labor Practice - Determination - Mandatory Bargaining Subject A particular course of conduct by a party to a collective bargaining agreement may violate both contractual and statutory duties. Determination whether a statute has been violated by a failure to bargain can require a review of the contract, but the Michigan Employment Relations Commission will not interpret a contract when the agreement provides for a grievance process which culminates in arbitration.
Contracts - Construction - Question of Law/Fact A determination whether contractual language is ambiguous is a question of law. If the language is clear, its meaning is a question of law. If the language is ambiguous, interpretation of it is a question of fact.
Labor Law - Terms and Conditions - Past Practice - Determination A past practice may create a term or condition of employment which cannot be altered unilaterally. To create a past practice, the practice must have been mutually accepted by both parties. If the collective bargaining agreement is ambiguous or silent on the subject, there need have been only a tacit agreement that the practice would continue, but if the agreement clearly covers a term which conflicts with the parties' past behavior, a higher standard of proof must be met.
Labor Law - Collective Bargaining - Agreement - Modification - Past Practice Generally, the parties to a contract may modify an existing contract through a meeting of the minds. A collective bargaining agreement is a product of informed understanding and mutual assent, and a party need not bargain anew to enforce a right contained in the contract unless the parties knowingly, voluntarily, and mutually agreed to new obligations. Such an agreement to vary the contractual terms by past practice must be clearly and unmistakably shown. In this case, the MERC found that the parties' past practice has superseded the contractual language because the respondent knew or should have known that it had acted contrary to the agreement. However, the MERC's standard of proof was inappropriate, and remand for a proper consideration of past practice is necessary.
Labor Law - Terms and Conditions - Past Practice - Burden of Proof Evidence of past practice is admissible in a labor dispute proceeding for three purposes: (1) to provide the basis of rules governing matters not included in the written contract; (2) to indicate the proper interpretation of ambiguous contract language; and (3) to support allegations that clear language of the written contract has been amended by mutual action or agreement. When the agreement is silent or ambiguous, proof of mutual acceptance may arise by inference from the circumstances; it is sufficient if the party knew or should have known of the alleged practice. But, if the past practice conflicts with clear contractual language, the past practice must have been so widely acknowledged and mutually accepted that it created an amendment to the contract. The party asserting the past practice must show that the parties had a meeting of the minds and intentionally chose to reject the negotiated contract and knowingly acted in accordance with past practice."
The article, references and legal reasoning may be totally fictitious, but it all comes from the Michigan Court of Appeals web site and, coincidentally, backs much of my earlier reasoning above. The court case I know nothing about and do not care. It is the legal reasoning involved that may bear directly on Manistique's "extra duty" conundrum.
Hopefully, before the next century, the Manistique teachers union will be held accountable for what I consider, be it legal or not, reprehensible bad faith bargaining and blatant sophistry. Hopefully, the stink will stick to the Michigan Teachers Association, the local union's parent organization.
I have waited six months for some sort of public comment from those that waxed indignant over this issue. I guess their concerns exist no longer. I will express mine, here, and move on.
On 08/24/02, the Manistique Area Schools Board reached an agreement with the M.E.A. That agreement was subsequently ratified by local teachers. The new contract clause states:
"All extra-duty positions shall be posted to bargaining unit members when they become vacant. For these vacant extra duty positions, preference will be given to qualified bargaining unit members. Extra-duty positions held by non-staff people may be posted annually, at the discretion of the administration."
That means, in plain English, within the context of the rest of the existing contract:
(1) All, new and old, vacant extra-duty positions will be offered to union members, first.
(2) A position held by a non-union individual may be offered to union members, and when accepted and filled by a union member, it becomes a union position, just like other existing union positions.
In effect, the new term relinquished, to the teachers' union, the school administration's and board's option to choose qualified, non-union, extra duty job applicants, for new positions. The term preserves, at the discretion of school administrators, the jobs of non-union individuals filling existing extra-duty positions. If and when a position is filled by a union staff member, the position will continue to be filled with a qualified union member, as the union chooses, consistent with other contract terms. When an existing extra duty contract expires, the vacant position will be posted for union folk, not the public.
In exchange for the union's previously unsubstantiated claim to displace all current non-union extra duty employees, all teachers received an extra 1/2 percent raise for the remaining four years of their existing contract and two extra sick days for the remainder of the school year, at a total 4 year estimated cost of $18,000.
The M.A.S. Board voted 6-0, with one member absent, to approve the agreement, with glowing words surrounding the "spirit of co-operation"
I find that I come back to my conclusion comments, quite often, to hone the language to express my understanding (or lack, thereof) of the nuances of the issues. Given the issues involved, and the decisions made behind closed doors, I am struck by how meaningless the news and publicity around this issue has been.
The negotiations between union members and the M.A.S. Board was a masterpiece of union bargaining. It was based on claims that local teachers never had a a well defined right to, if any right at all. The necessity of adding the new contract clause, to secure the years of unsubstantiated claims, indicates the union members never had the contract right to their claims. Why add a term to a contract, for a contract right, if you have that right by the existing terms of the contract?
If the disagreements were due to missing or vague contract language, was the general local membership due a raise for the addition of a clarification term? Why was it appropriate to grant the union additional control over new extra duty hiring? If the union had no contract term to displace non-union extra duty employees, why pay the general union membership for a contract term to preserve a few existing non-union extra duty jobs, that only a few union members may have applied for? If the union had some legal "implied term" to displace non-union employees, why pay the general union membership for a contract term to preserve a few existing non-union jobs, that only a few union members applied for? What were the "negotiations", behind closed doors, that cost the public so dearly and erodes what respect I have for the Board members and union teachers?
If I can get past the disgusting taste this episode leaves in my mouth, can others? What effect has this issue, alone, upon the voting choices of those that follow school related issues?
Does the monetary cost of the Board's apparent capitulation stop at $18,000? I have no reason to believe it does. No mention was made of a contract term that would prevent future wage negotiations from being based on the current wages, including the latest 1/2%. I suspect that, 4 years from now, new contract negotiations will be based on wages including the latest 1/2% raise adjusted for inflation, cost of living and ??? If I am correct, a little 6th grade arithmetic might lead one to conclude that, 20 years from now, that 1/2% raise will translate to a cost to the school system of well over $100,000. I suspect others may see that likely consequence, also.
With nothing more than the publicity babble to refer to, a thoughtful and prudent adult might find justification to ask, "Are M.A.S. Board members also Michigan Education Association union members?". The "secret" negotiations, the resolution, and the meaningless subsequent publicity do not instill much confidence in this member of the public. The process does suggest I might have been "conned" if, as I pointed out, the apparent sophistry of union member claims should have been transparent to an eighth grade grasp of logic and the English language. With no public evidence or reasoning to the contrary, and as one who understands the predatory nature of my species, I conclude that I have been misled; for others' personal gain, at my expense.
The local teachers of the M.E.A. got everything they wanted, and got paid to get it. Now, by contract, when current extra duty contracts run out, the union will have the choice to fill all extra duty positions, not based on the competitive merits of all community applicants, but upon the competitive merits of union members, only. If the union does not fill a position, qualified individuals from the general public get an opportunity, with the sure knowledge that, if they are hired, then, when the period of that contract expires, it can be taken by a qualified union member, regardless of better qualifications held by the previous non union employee/ applicant; exactly what occurred when Matelski applied for the position previously held by Vaughn.
The M.A.S. Board got the right to beat its chest about preventing non-union members from being ousted from positions that will now become, by the inevitable consequences of time and the new contract term, irrevocable union positions.
Earlier in this article, with more limited knowledge, I considered three possible choices for Board action, to resolve the unsubstantiated union contract claims. I failed to consider the choice the Board made. Give the union everything it claimed an unsubstantiated right to, and throw in a raise as sweetener.
I also stated: "If union officials maintain that the intent of the contract is for staff members to be given hiring preference relative to extra duty positions ... the M.A.S. Board would never have accepted it, and the public would have hung them if they had ..."
I was wrong. Judging by the lack of public outcry, it is quite obvious that the public, in general, including those that were riled, either doesn't understand, or approves of the Board's action, or cares not, or is so consumed with apathy that it sees nothing to gain by voicing its discontent. The possibility that I am the only one to see a public sham, where there is none, is possible, also, though I have no reason to think so.
Relative to the general public interest that pays for the consequences of amateur negotiators, it is obvious, to me, that school districts should pool their resources to hire professional representatives, that understand the issues and procedures, to negotiate union related matters. Well meaning Board amateurs piss away public money, at will, because they fail to recognize their own limitations. The M.E.A. bargaining representatives recognized the Board's limitations, and ate it alive, at public expense.
Employees will rule their employers, especially when they are smarter and more adaptable. This dispute was not about education choices, or a legitimate union claim. It was about the dominance of intellectual power, for money. As with any other process of natural selection, the weak succumbed.