Marquette schools & employee union file unfair labor practice charge against each other

The Marquette Area Public Schools and the union representing some of the district’s support staff have filed unfair labor practice charges against each other.

The charges concern the district’s contract for secretaries, classroom aides and noon hour supervisors. The specific item of contention has to do with step raises, which are pay increases based on years of service. The union claims the contract was supposed to have them but did not.

“We look at it as a mistake in the final draft,” Michigan Education Association UniServ director for Marquette and Alger Counties Stu Skauge said. “I called the superintendent and said, ‘I think there’s a disagreement here. My bargaining team and the members are telling me that they never agreed to no step’.”

“We agreed to a contract in mid-September,” Marquette Area Public Schools superintendent Bill Saunders said. “Both sides ratified that contract; (it) went into place in late Septmber. Now, suddenly, six months later we see a ULP (unfair labor practice charge) show up.”

The union says it raised the issue last fall but that it has never been resolved. The district filed an unfair labor practice charge against the union earlier this week, saying that it has rejected a valid contract that its members voted to agree to.

“We value those employees immensely,” Saunders said. “We want to compensate them fairly; they do a tremendous job. Maybe with a little better communication, we can get this situation resolved. That’s what we hope to do.”

“We have a contract with the district; it’s all in place,” Skauge said. “The only question is, was that no-step sentence that was added at the end a mistake or was that actually bargained?”

The teachers’ union and the school district have still not come to an agreement on a new contract. The two sides have a mediation session scheduled for April 8th.