Marquette teachers have been negotiating with the Board of Education since August 2013 for a new contract, and Wednesday night teachers held a town hall meeting to discuss what the issues are, in regards to negotiations.
A main issue on the table are teachers’ ‘steps’, or raises every few years based on experience. At the most recent negotiation session August 6, the school board did not suggest a new proposal. The teachers union proposed two ‘step’ increases, one in September and one in January, and no salary raises.
“We feel that we need a fair contract, an equitable contract,” Marquette Area Education Association lead negotiator Fred Cole said. “We’re not asking for the moon. We’re asking for less that what other districts in the county settled for, and our district is in much better financial shape. And that’s a great thing, we’re glad the district’s in good financial shape.”
The district’s fund balance has been increasing in the past few years, while a first-year teacher salary is $34,000–a figure that has not changed since 2010. Negotiation sessions between the two sides have been held about every two weeks. Even though no deal has been made yet, teachers will continue to serve the district.
“We’ll be working to fulfill the terms of the contract, and working and doing what we’re required to do and we’ll do our best. We’re professionals and we’re here for the students. We’re here for the students and for the families of this district and that’s why we’re teachers and we’re pulling for a strong and unified community.”
MAPS school board president Rich Rossway released a statement to ABC 10 about the ongoing contract negotiations:
“The Board is working hard for a settlement with the MEA. We’ve had 20 plus negotiation sessions and feel we have made progress. The Board is committed to paying our extraordinary teaching staff at the highest level possible, while focusing on being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers of our school district. We want to ensure that our district remains financially sound for generations to come.”