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Wage freeze, no pink slips; GEA OKs two-year contract

by David Fleet

July 16, 2014

By David Fleet

Editor

Goodrich-By a 6-0 vote on Monday night during a special meeting, the school board of trustees OK'd a two year contract with the Goodrich Education Association.

Board Vice-President Jeff Gardner resigned from the board on June 23.

"The Goodrich Education Association membership met last week and ratified the two-year contract with the district," said Michelle Imbrunone, district superintendent who started July 1.

"Both parties have agreed to a reopening clause for wages and benefits for the 2015-16 school year—starting in April. The district is grateful for the cooperation and collaboration from the GEA and appreciates the concessions put forth."

Imbrunone said the contract includes changes to the insurance, wages, employee hours and contract hours.

In September 2013 the school board of trustees had ratified a one-year contract with the Goodrich Education Association.At that time, then-superintendent Scott Bogner reported that support staff, administrators and teaching staff had given back with regard to wages and benefits. Concessions varied and ranged from about 3 percent to 5 percent, he said.

The Goodrich Education Association, representing more than 100 teachers, had agreed to one year—at which time the contract was reopened.

Wages and salaries total about 80 percent of the school district's $17 million budget.

"There are no wage increases at this time for the GEA," she added. "We are also still in negotiations with the CMP (Custodial/Maintenance/Paraprofessionals)."

By a vote of 5-1 in June 2013 the school board OK'd a three year contract with Portland-based Michigan Education Transportation Services (METS). Trustee Linda Jackson was absent and trustee Tim Zirnhelt voted no. Following the vote, 15 bus drivers received lay-off notices from the district according to the agreement with the district's Custodial Maintenance Paraprofessionals and Transportation (CMPT) labor group.

While CMP talks continue, school board president David Cramer was pleased with the GEA contract.

"It was a very collaborative effort for the teacher agreement to be signed," said Cramer. "All worked well together, it's not everything the teachers wanted, it's also not everything we wanted. The wage steps are frozen for a year of the two year contract. They are working on the work day hours to help avoid the losses due to the snow days. All in all it was a very good effort on both sides of the table."

GEA Union President Cindy Rivet, who represents about 100 district teachers, agreed it was a fair contract.

"We did not get everything—but that's negotiations," said Rivet, who will step down as president in August. "Before Scott Bogner, former district superintendent, left, we had a good working relationship—that's what makes a strong district. We worked through the details of the contract until it was resolved. And until the state cuts loose some money it's not going to get much better. It's an election year so they let some money go to make people feel good in November. More than likely they'll take it back next year."

Rivet said the new health insurance deductible for teachers has risen to $1,300 for singles and $2,600 for families.

"Unfortunately, it's become the norm," she added.