Wednesday, May 27, 2015

AAEA To File Unfair Labor Practice Charge, Asks for Parent/Citizen Support

Tonight, while I was on my way to the Community High School Communicator banquet (follow the link to see their great work), the Ann Arbor Education Association was setting up for a press conference, where they announced that they are going to file an Unfair Labor Practice charge against the Ann Arbor schools.

Linda Carter, AAEA President, began her remarks (as distributed to the press), like this:

I stand here today with my fellow teachers, gathered in unity to voice our shared concern about the future of the Ann Arbor Public Schools. We believe the superintendent and the Board of Education have embarked upon a path which will at the very least damage, if not destroy, this school district.  We will file an Unfair Labor Practice charge on behalf of our students who deserve professional, high quality, fairly compensated teachers in their classrooms.
After taking several pay cuts in recent years to keep the district afloat, teachers were shocked and saddened when our Superintendent, Dr. Jeanice Swift, and the Board of Education threatened to terminate our contract if we failed to bargain a new one in 60 days.
Making matters worse, the Board introduced three new policies at last week’s board meeting that align with our State Legislature in Lansing—policies that are out-of-step with our community’s values and remove job protections critical to teacher success and strong educational outcomes.
Teachers don’t understand why our Superintendent and board are taking such aggressive actions against us, especially in light of the sacrifices we have made in recent years.

Carter also asserted, "We have been in continuous, collaborative problem solving conversations every month of this school year.  And in the past two weeks, district officials have met twice at our invitation--in our union offices--to discuss our contract.  We even met last Thursday, May 21st--the same day the Superintendent sent an email claiming we weren’t willing to meet."

You can read the full text of Carter's remarks here.
You can read the AAEA's press release here.

[And if you are looking for the "other side," the district has an FAQ page about negotiations here.]

If you want to read actual contracts language of the various contracts, you can read it here.

The teachers' union is asking supporters to write letters to the school board and superintendent (

My friend Bev Davidson offered her letter as a template if you are looking to write a letter. It's long! So I am pasting part of it in below, and then I link to the entire letter. You should feel free to borrow from this letter, or to write your own, with your own thoughts.

To the Board of Education and Dr. Swift,
I am a parent of two children in the Ann Arbor Public Schools.  I am grateful that we have the opportunity to live and work in such a rich community, and that our children can be educated by dedicated and hard-working teachers in our school system.  Our school district has a solid reputation of providing innovative educational opportunities, and of having exemplary teachers.  I am concerned that the recent discussions between the Superintendent and the Board of Education and the teachers is creating a negative climate that will ultimately only hurt our children.  

Much has been reported to the media by the Superintendent about the need to be fiscally responsible and protect and manage the school budget, and that there is a need to open the teachers contract and negotiate even more pay cuts.  I find this tactic by the Superintendent to be disingenuous.  Teachers in our district have agreed to take pay cuts in 2010, 2013, and 2014 for the sake of the school district.  Since 2010, the teachers have given the AAPS over $10 million through these major concessions.  The District made a promise to the teachers in 2010 to provide $4.5 million to the salary schedule for agreed upon concessions.  Until that promise is fulfilled, the contract remains in effect and enforceable.  The District has not made part or all of that payment to the teachers.

Our teachers have more than fulfilled their end of the agreements with integrity, fidelity, and transparency. Further, the DIstrict has not honored the last 2 one-year Memorandum of Agreements.  Instead they have threatened the teachers with "the nuclear clause" (10.118) to get out of promises they made to restore the concessions to the teachers in 2013 and again in 2014.  Since the district has increased revenue this school year, they cannot use the "nuclear clause," rather, the District is now engaging in anti-teacher and anti-union rhetoric and propaganda to shape public opinion and bully teachers into bargaining.   

We all know that public schools are hurting due to budget issues, and this is not because of union contracts and teachers salaries.  We all know that the way our state funds public schools is archaic and unfair, and that the state legislature and our Governor is on a mission to dismantle public schools.  I am saddened and disheartened that our elected board members and Superintendent are engaging in such similar tactics and trying to impinge on worker's rights and effectively destroy our beloved school district by blasting our teachers and their lack of commitment to our children.  I also find it disrespectful that our Superintendent sends an email to parents which blames the teacher's union for not coming to the bargaining table and pitting parents against teachers.  There is no need for that kind of information, true or not true, to be sent to parents.  Bargaining rights and union-administration negotiations should be kept at the bargaining table.

The letter continues here.
Citizens of Ann Arbor--I encourage you to get educated and stay engaged!

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