Northville Teachers Give Big Health Care Concessions as Part of New Contract
The 2-year contract fell short of bringing back all 52 of Northville's laid off teachers.
The 2-year agreement calls for an overall wage reduction of 4 percent and benefit concessions, the biggest of which is health care. Under the agreement, teachers’ deductibles will increase and they will pay 20 percent of their health care premiums. The school district has been working on such cuts to offset its estimated $5 million deficit.
While several school board members maintained that the cuts did not go far enough to help the district and return all of the laid off teachers, a representative for the teachers’ bargaining team said that the health care concessions were a significant loss.
“I agree that it was probably not what either side wanted,” said the Northville Education Association’s chief negotiator Tom Boomer, a fourth grade teacher at Ridge Wood Elementary School, after the meeting.
Still, he said, the tone of the negotiations was cordial.
“There was willingness on both sides to help the district overall,” he said.
The board voted 5-2 to approve the contract with board president Joan Wadsworth, Dottie Garrity, Libby Smith, Marilyn Price and Ken Roth voting in favor. Joe Hige and James Mazurek voted against the agreement.
At the meeting, Mazurek told the crowd of about 20 that he was disappointed in the agreement.
“Unfortunately, we sit here today without the ability to bring back all 52 teachers,” he said. “Some of the 52 teachers are our best employees.”
He touched on tenure-based step increases, which were reduced as part of the concessions in the agreement, but were not eliminated completely.
“That step increase impacted a few of (the laid off teachers) not being able to get their jobs back,” Mazurek said.
Board member Hige said that the 20 percent increase to class sizes and loss of 26 teachers was too hard a part of the agreement to swallow.
“At the end of the day, (full time employees), real people lost 100 percent of their salaries and benefits,” he said. Hige added that a “couple percentage” points in further reductions could “save the 26 teachers.”
Roth said that he was sad to see the 26 teachers let go permanently in the next school year. He added that the district’s transportation workers – who were recently laid off as the services were privatized through Ohio-based company – custodial and food service workers also were impacted as much as the teachers’ union because of the district’s unforeseeable financial situation.
Superintendent Mary Kay Gallagher said that she supported the board’s decision, adding that it was a difficult process for both sides.
“The issue that we face and the budget cliff that we face is tremendous,” she said. “And it’s not the district’s doing and it’s not the teachers’ doing.”
The board is expected to formally recall the 26 teachers back at its Aug. 23 meeting, which will be held at 7:30 p.m. at Old Village School. The board will likely review a contract with the central office administration at the same meeting.