Deadline passes at MAPS

MARQUETTE – With no contract signed by both parties the Marquette Area Education Association and the Marquette Area Public Schools administration appear to be at an impasse.

And per a motion passed by the district’s board of education in April, directing the union to sign the contract by May or lose their paid step increases, steps provided to the district’s teachers throughout the school year will no longer appear on their paychecks.

Steps are pay increases based on the number of years of service to the district.

According to Superintendent Deb Veiht, the union had until the end of the day Wednesday to sign a contract that did not include bargaining items recently deemed prohibited under state law.

If the union didn’t sign the contract with the language removed, “they stop receiving their steps,” Veiht said.

Stu Skauge, UniServ director for the Michigan Education Association and a representative for the MAEA during negotiations with MAPS, said the union would not sign any contract with the language removed, since the removal was not discussed during negotiations and is not mentioned in the tentative agreement signed and ratified by both parties by September.

Skauge said he has not received any formal notification from MAPS that step payments would cease, and said if the teachers’ pay is reduced, the union would be forced to file a grievance with the district and an unfair labor practice charge with the Michigan Employee Relations Commission.

Skauge said arbitration or a MERC hearing could take as long as a year to complete.

For now, Skauge said, the union is waiting for its next payday before taking any action.

“All we can do is wait and see what they do and how they act, take what action they take,” he said. “Then we have to respond to it.”

The 2012-2013 contract would have expired June 30, and both sides are currently gearing up for a new round of negotiations on a new contract.

“We will, of course, be giving them the contract that has the prohibitive subjects of bargaining removed for teachers,” Veiht said.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.