After almost a year and half of negotiations, pickets and struggles, the West Bloomfield School District and the West Bloomfield Education Association (WBEA) have come to an agreement on a new contract for the current and upcoming school years.
The Board of Education approved the agreement at a special meeting held Monday, June 6, after the WBEA membership had ratified it a week earlier.
The terms of the agreement include a 5.5 percent off-schedule reduction in wages for the current school year, including one furlough day, and a 9.5 percent off-schedule reduction in wages for the 2011-12 school year, including three furlough days.
WBEA members will also now pay $60 month for single health care coverage, $80 for two people, and $100 for full families. In addition, employees will also pay health care deductibles of $200 for singles and $400 for families.
Coaches and club sponsors will also see a permanent 10 percent pay cut.
The district’s teachers were working without a contract after their previous contract expired on Aug. 31, 2010. The road to the new contract was filled with numerous negotiating sessions and critical moments.
A fact-finding report was released in January by the Michigan Employee Relations Commission and recommended an immediate across-the-board 10 percent reduction in the salary schedule, along with two furlough days for the 2011-12 school year and an increase in the WBEA’s health insurance deductible to $300/$600.
Then the Board of Education at a special meeting on March 31 implemented a 10-percent salary cut and a retroactive step wage freeze for the district’s teachers.
The WBEA answered back on May 2 by filing a lawsuit in Oakland County Circuit Court against the Board of Education and the school district, calling for a preliminary injunction against the board’s 10-percent salary cut and seeking damages for alleged violation of individual teachers’ contracts.
WBEA President Kim Pilarski said that with the new contract, the lawsuit will probably be dropped.
“At this time, this is the best we can get with the state funding and the economy,” Pilarski said.
Cyndi Austin, Michigan Education Association Liaison for West Bloomfield Schools, said that the WBEA still has a lot of issues with Michigan school funding and that it’s hoping to bargain again in a better climate.
Calls to the West Bloomfield School District for comment weren’t returned prior to press time.
The next West Bloomfield School Board meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 13.
The new contract is slated to expire at the end of the 2011-12 academic year.