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Madison's Collective Bargaining to "Handbook" Transition: Status Quo, or ? Intrade?

Matthew DeFour:

Madison will be looking to its own collective bargaining agreement as well as handbooks adopted by other districts and input from employees, Nadler said. Unlike previous collective bargaining discussions, however, School Board meetings on the subject will be held in open session. Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director John Matthews, who in 45 years has had a hand in expanding the collective bargaining agreement from four to 157 pages, has been emphasizing since Act 10 passed that everything in the agreement has been jointly agreed upon by the School Board and union. "Instead of collective bargaining it's going to be meet and confer," Matthews said. "We have really 50 years of developing things together that make the school system work." Don Severson, president of a conservative watchdog group and MTI critic, sees the handbook as an opportunity for the district to break away from MTI's influence over school operations. He wants a middle school to be able to hire a math teacher from outside the district with math certification, for example, rather than be forced to hire a district teacher who meets minimum requirements but lacks such certification. "They need to keep in mind that the only thing the union has any involvement or responsibility for is negotiating salary," Severson said.
Related: Current 182 page Madison Teachers, Inc. Collective Bargaining Agreement (PDF) and Concessions before negotiations ("Voluntary Impasse Resolution Procedure") I suspect that 90% of the existing collective bargaining agreement will end up in the District's "Handbook". Perhaps someone might setup a prediction @ Intrade on this matter. Conversely, some Districts will think differently and create a far different and more appealing world for some teachers. New Wisconsin School District Handbooks take effect.

"Concessions Before Negotiations, Redux"; What can School Board candidates promise the teachers union?

Jack Craver:

Of the 33 questions on the questionnaire for School Board candidates crafted by Madison Teachers Inc., one asks the candidate whether he or she will "introduce and vote for a motion to adopt the Collective Bargaining Agreements negotiated between MTI and the Madison Metropolitan School District as [school district] policy." Both Arlene Silveira, who is running for re-election on the board, and Michael Flores, who is running for an open seat, responded "yes." Both candidates received MTI's endorsement. Ed Hughes, a fellow board member, is dismayed by what he sees as a pledge that will restrict the administration's ability to develop new solutions for district issues. "The pledge of the MTI-endorsed candidates isn't to exercise good judgment; it's a pledge to renounce the exercise of any judgment at all," he says. In particular, Hughes is worried that retaining certain elements of the existing contract, such as the non-compete clause that keeps the district from contracting with non-union employees, will limit schools' ability to get kids help from qualified outsiders.

Seat 1 Candidates:

Nichele Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com

Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com

Seat 2 Candidates:

Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com

Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com

Related: Chris Rickert: (Wisconsin Gubernatorial Candidate Kathleen) Falk's pledge to union leaders hypocritical or admirable? 1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Audio & Transcript. "Concessions Before Negotiations" has been going on for some time locally.

Wisconsin School districts press to reach agreements

Karen Herzog:

With deadlines looming against a backdrop of uncertainty, some area school districts are scurrying to reach agreements with employee unions, gaining concessions in benefits to avoid mass layoffs and program cuts. A few agreements are new or extended contracts, including a two-year contract for teachers approved last week in Menomonee Falls. Others, such as an agreement approved for West Allis-West Milwaukee teachers, are more limited. School districts could have made the changes without union approval if the law largely eliminating collective bargaining for most public employees wasn't stalled in court. School officials also are crafting new employee handbooks to replace union contracts, outlining benefits and working conditions no longer subject to negotiations if, as expected, collective bargaining is limited to wages. Some districts are obligated by contract to send layoff notices by June 1. Districts also must give 30 days' notice if they want to switch to less expensive insurance plans before the new fiscal year begins July 1. Many districts have union contracts that expire June 30.

A Watershed Teacher Labor Negotiation in Washington, DC

Steven Pearlstein:

As we head into the Labor Day weekend, it is only fitting that we consider what may be the country's most significant contract negotiation, which happens to be going on right here in Washington between the teachers union and the District's dynamic and determined new schools chancellor, Michelle Rhee. Negotiations are stalled over Rhee's proposal to give teachers the option of earning up to $131,000 during the 10-month school year in exchange for giving up absolute job security and a personnel-and-pay system based almost exclusively on years served. If Rhee succeeds in ending tenure and seniority as we know them while introducing merit pay into one of the country's most expensive and underperforming school systems, it would be a watershed event in U.S. labor history, on a par with President Ronald Reagan's firing of striking air traffic controllers in 1981. It would trigger a national debate on why public employees continue to enjoy what amounts to ironclad job security without accountability while the taxpayers who fund their salaries have long since been forced to accept the realities of a performance-based global economy. Union leaders from around the country, concerned about the attention the Rhee proposal has received and the precedent it could set, have been pressing the Washington local to resist. But Rhee clearly has the upper hand. The chancellor has the solid support of the mayor and city council, and should it come to a showdown, there is little doubt that the voters would stand behind her in a battle with a union already badly tarnished by an embezzlement scandal and deeply implicated in the school system's chronic failure.
There are signs that things may be a bit different in Madison today, compared to past practices.

November 2008 Referendum Chatter

Mitch Henck discusses Monday evening's Madison School Board 7-0 vote to proceed with a recurring referendum this November. 19 minutes into this 15mb mp3. Topics include: property taxes, uncontested elections, health care costs, concessions before negotiations and local control. Via a kind reader's email.

A Health Care Cost Win for the Madison School District & A Pay Raise for Madison Teacher's Clerical Unit

Sandy Cullen:

Nearly 200 employees of the Madison School District who currently have health insurance provided by Wisconsin Physicians Service will lose that option, saving the district at least $1.6 million next year. But the real savings in eliminating what has long been the most expensive health insurance option for district employees will come in "cost avoidance" in the future, said Bob Nadler, director of human resources for the district. "It's a big deal for us - it really is," Nadler said. "It certainly will be a benefit to both our employees and the taxpayers," said Superintendent Art Rainwater, adding that the savings were applied to salary increases for the employees affected. The change, which will take effect Aug. 1, is the result of an arbitrator's ruling that allows the district to eliminate WPS coverage as an option for members of the clerical unit of Madison Teachers Inc., and instead offer a choice of coverage by Group Health Cooperative, Dean Care or Physicians Plus at no cost to employees. Those employees previously had a choice between only WPS or GHC. Currently, the district pays $1,878.44 a month for each employee who chooses WPS family coverage and $716.25 for single coverage. For Dean Care, the next highest in cost, the district will pay $1,257.68 per employee a month for family coverage and $478.21 for single coverage. This year, WPS raised its costs more than 11 percent while other providers raised their costs by 5 percent to 9 percent, Nadler said.
Related: The tradeoff between WPS's large annual cost increases, salaries and staff layoffs will certainly be a much discussed topic in the next round of local teacher union negotiations.

Union Negotiations Go Online

American Airlines and its unions are actively using the web to publish their positions. Check out the Association of Professional Flight Attendants Website. Related: Concessions before negotiations and an alternate view.

Waukesha Schools go to Mediation over teacher contracts: Trading Jobs for Compensation?

Pete Kennedy:

The word "mediation" usually isn’t all that menacing. But these days, and in this district, "mediation" packs plenty of punch. A few weeks ago the Waukesha School Board announced it had taken its teachers to mediation. That means a neutral party will try to negotiate a settlement between the teachers union (the Education Association of Waukesha) and the board. What’s most significant about the board’s action is the mediator can declare an impasse and send the proposals to an arbitrator. And that, my friend, is a big deal. Why? First, because arbitration is the labor-relations version of high-stakes poker. It’s a winner-take-all proposition. Both sides present their proposal to a (supposedly) neutral third party, who picks the plan he or she believes fairest. There is no in-between - you win or you lose. Arbitration also is a big deal because it’s hardly ever done, at least when state public schools are involved. "Yes, it’s significant," said David Schmidt, superintendent of the School District of Waukesha for the past 10 years. "It’s the first time we’ve done it since I’ve been here." Schmidt says he is fine with the teachers union, that the real trouble is in Madison. (The EAW is very much in agreement.) But right now, the problem has to be fixed closer to home. "What we can control locally are our expenditures," Schmidt says.
Links and notes on Madison's recent teacher's contract.

Audio / Video: Madison School Board Vote on the MTI 2007 - 2009 Agreement

The Madison School Board voted 4-3 (for: Carstensen, Moss, Silveira and Winston; no: Cole, Kobza and Mathiak) Monday evening to approve the proposed MMSD / MTI 2007 - 2009 agreement. The new arrangement, which does not include substantial health care changes, was set in motion by the "Voluntary Impasse Resolution Document" - also approved by a 4-3 vote (Carol Carstensen's alt view). This document, approved before negotiations began, took health care changes off the table if the discussions resulted in arbitration. 30 Minute Video Clip34MB MP3 audio recording of the entire board meeting (MTI Agreement vote discussion begins at about 6 minutesMTI's useful synopsis of the Agreement: 150K PDF, including the extension of the TERP (Teacher Retirement Extension Program) through...

Madison Schools MTI Teacher Contract Roundup

Conversation regarding the recent MMSD / MTI collective bargaining agreement continues: Andy Hall wrote a useful summary, along with some budget numbers (this agreementi s56% of the MMSD's $339.6M budget):District negotiators headed by Superintendent Art Rainwater had sought to free up money for starting teachers' salaries by persuading the union to drop Wisconsin Physicians Service, a health-care provider that offers open access to medical treatment with no need for referrals. The district wanted MTI members to choose from among three health-maintenance organizations that limit coverage to specific providers in return for lower costs. But the union kept the current mix -- WPS plus one HMO, Group Health Cooperative -- after members in a survey indicated support for maintaining those options....

MMSD and MTI reach tentative contract agreement

Madison Metropolitan School District: The Madison Metropolitan School District and Madison Teachers Incorporated reached a tentative agreement yesterday on the terms and conditions of a new two-year collective bargaining agreement for MTI's 2,400 member teacher bargaining unit. The contract, for the period from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2009, needs ratification from both the Board of Education and MTI. MTI will hold a ratification meeting on Thursday, June 14 at 7:00 p.m. at the Alliant Energy Center, Dane County Forum. The Board of Education will take up the proposal in a special meeting on Monday, June 18 at 5:00 p.m. The MTI meeting is closed to the public, while the Board's meeting is open. Terms of the contract include:...

MMSD / MTI Contract Negotiations Begin: Health Care Changes Proposed

Susan Troller:The district and Madison Teachers Inc. exchanged initial proposals Wednesday to begin negotiations on a new two-year contract that will run through June 30, 2009. The current one expires June 30. "Frankly, I was shocked and appalled by the school district's initial proposal because it was replete with take-backs in teachers' rights as well as the economic offer," John Matthews, executive director of MTI, said in an interview Thursday. But Bob Butler, a staff attorney with the Wisconsin Association of School Boards who is part of the district's bargaining team, said he believed the district's proposal was fair and flexible. He said the administration's proposal on health care provides two new HMO plans that could bring savings to the...

2007 / 2008 $339M+ MMSD Budget: "School Shuffle is Losing"

Andy Hall:A controversial plan to close and consolidate schools on Madison's North and East sides appears dead a week before the Madison School Board's self- imposed deadline for determining $7.9 million in spending reductions. Four of the board's seven members plan to vote against Superintendent Art Rainwater's proposal to save $1 million by closing tiny Lindbergh Elementary and reshuffling hundreds of other students in elementary and middle schools, according to interviews with all board members. The plan could be revived, however, if board members fail to find a comparable amount of cost savings elsewhere in the district's 2007-08 budget.Related 2007-2008 MMSD Budget (07/08 budget is either $339M or $345M (- I've seen both numbers used); up from $333M in 06/07)...

An Alt View on Concessions Before Negotiations

Carol Carstensen:I thought it might be helpful to provide some facts and explanations about the topic of health insurance – hopefully this will clear up some of the misinformation and misconceptions present in the public discussions. It is important to remember that the focus must be on the total package settlement – because that is what has an impact on the budget. For example, Sun Prairie’s agreement to make changes in its health insurance (by using a joint committee to find a way to reduce health insurance costs) has been praised, as it should be. It should be noted, however, that Sun Prairie’s total package settlement was 4.75% - while Madison’s package, without switching health insurance carriers, was 3.98%. (A...

Governor Doyle's Proposed Budget Does Not Save the Madison School District:
Proposed Budget provides 65% of public school costs via redistributed sales, income, corporate taxes and fees, rather than 67%.

I've received some emails on this story. It seems there are two approaches to "fixing" the Madison School District's $333M+ budget for our 24,342 students. Blame the state/federal government, or work locally to build support for our public schools in terms of volunteer hours, partnerships and money. I believe that latter approach is far more likely to succeed because we have more control all around and we have a vested interest in our community's future. That's also why I support Maya Cole (vs. Marj Passman) and Rick Thomas (vs. Beth Moss) for school board. Ruth Robarts, Lucy Mathiak and Lawrie Kobza have proven that the board and individual members can be effective. An insider friend mentioned that Doyle's budget is...

Concessions Made in Advance of MTI Negotiations by a Majority of the Madison School Board

It will be interesting to see how voters on February 20 and April 3 view this decision by a majority of the Madison School Board: Should the Board and Administration continue to give away their ability to negotiate health care benefits ($43.5M of the 2006/2007 budge) before MTI union bargaining begins? Read the 2005 MMSD/MTI Voluntary Impasse Agreement [1.1MB PDF; see paragraph's 2, 10 and 11]. The 2007 version, alluded to in Andy Hall's article below, will be posted when it sees the light of day. This is an important issue for all of us, given the MMSD's challenge of balancing their growing $331M+ budget, while expenses - mostly salaries and benefits - continue to increase at a faster rate....

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