Labor, Teachers — March 21, 2013 at 7:13 am

Grosse Pointe teachers sign union contract that ties pay to school financial health, will pay for their own subs


Wait, is that a “pregnancy tax”???

Grosse Pointe teachers signed a new four-year contract with their school district that continues a unique twist: It ties teachers’ pay to the school district’s fund equity (basically what the district owns minus what it owes). In exchange, they put off the effects of Michigan’s new right to work law for four years and, thanks to modifications in the previous contract’s provisions, avoided pay cuts of up to 9%. In this case, it appears that the school district was able to use the threat of the impending right to work law to get quick ratification of the new contract.

When teachers signed the original contract three years ago, none of them believed the district’s fund equity would fall below the 10% threshold required to trigger pay cuts. However, in 2011 it did:

Chart from a Powerpoint presentation presented to Grosse Pointe school teachers

This triggered pay cuts that nobody was expecting.

The new contract features some rather bizarre new components. For example, sick time has been eliminated for teachers and replaced by an “individual leave bank” of up to 10-12 days. Teachers that exhaust these banked days will be compelled to pay the school district $120/day for the costs of a substitute teacher. They can appeal to the school board for an exemption in the case of catastrophic illness. This is being characterized by some as a “pregnancy tax” since most pregnancy leaves would exceed the banked allowance.

The new contract does soften the blow of the impact on wage cuts but wage cuts will continue based on the Grosse Pointe School District’s fund equity at this time. It also requires that the use of personal days, which have been reduced from three to two, be approved by the Human Resources department. You can see more on the contract’s provisions HERE.

The tying of teacher pay to the fund equity was groundbreaking when it was put into the last contract. One of the big criticisms of it is that it contains no virtually incentives for the school board to rein in spending in other areas to avoid the pay cuts. There are some now, in fact, who accuse the board of being on a careless “spending spree” that contributed to the fund equity dropping below 10% in 2011 and forcing teacher pay cuts. This most recent contract was hurried along somewhat by the fact that the new Right to Work law goes into effect next Thursday and that, without modification of the teachers’ pay provisions, teachers would have faced even deeper pay cuts than those required by the new contract.

It’s just one more example of how we are starving our schools of resources across the state and the ones who pay the price are the very people that we task with teaching our kids and preparing them to take their place in society.

You would think, given that profoundly important role they play in society, that we would value them just a little bit more.

  • kirke123

    ok, this is what i am talking about mea leadership! pussies! this will not stop and teachers will soon be in the same position before they were allowed to unionize. a state wide strike is needed or kiss your jobs good-bye.
    state wide strike must include all unions not just teachers. the state must shut down and the republicans must be blamed.
    will it happen, not now but sooner than you think if pubs remain in control.
    ps. where are the leaders????????????????????????????

    • The Grosse Pointe teachers are not represented by the MEA.

    • Steph

      I would also like to state that pussies are not synonymous with weakness as you suggest. A small point in your larger argument, I know, but you may not realize the sexism implied by using that term.

    • They can’t get airtime on the corporate owned media. NONE of the network local news stations are out covering this important labor story. This would have been UNHEARD of in the Metro Detroit of yesteryear.

      The abhorrent idiocy is that people that align with the right wing get happy about it, they’re like: ‘Yaaaay, the people that I entrust my children to from almost birth to 18 years of age, are angry, getting more poor every year, have no benefits and are continually getting screwed over by the union busting wingnuts in the state capital..and ME…yaaaaay!!’ Does that really makes sense to anyone?

      Even IF your kid attends St.Jesus Halliburton Middle School Corp., that has a CEO/Priest as Principal, and to which you pay $100,000 to send your 3 kids – why would you want the people who live less than 5-7 minutes from you, who used to police your streets, put out your fires and teach your kids, either a) angry, laid off with dwindling finances….OR, b) picking up and moving to an environment that doesn’t screw them over for making a combined 90,000 a year?

      How does that make sense for your community, ANY community?

      It doesn’t. The conservatives owned by the Koch brothers in Lansing are going in the opposite direction of the country. Sure, they feel powerful now, as they lame duck their sneaky bills through, and override the will of the people in the state of Michigan – unwittingly gnawing off their own feet, but it catches up to them.
      You can only ride the gay marriage/racial animus/anti-choice/47% ‘social issue smoke&mirrors’ express train (with the Koch bros. as tandem train conductors) for so long, before the sheeple wake up and realize they’re getting screwed.

  • Steph

    Can a union contract really overrule FMLA?

    • I could be wrong, however, I do believe FMLA only protects your job for up to 12 weeks (if you were in an environment that employs over so many people – I think 50), but does not state that your job has to provide you compensation during that leave. It just holds your job for that time until you can return. :( We have the WORST system in the world (let’s excuse 3rd world countries, because we are not)!

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  • Rob

    The fact that the teachers would have to pay for a substitute teacher if going over their “allowance” is absurd. In a larger sense , teachers having to paying for the lack of the school boards ability to allocate resources properly is fucking absurd.

  • And people want to know why I want to quit teaching?