Proposal would force districts to pay increased costs even if there is no contract
If Democrats regain control of Michigan’s Senate and House in today’s election and Governor Gretchen Whitmer wins another term, an item on their agenda could increase costs for school districts across the country. ‘State.
Senate Bill 1094 would repeal a law, signed into law in 2011, that protects local school districts from having to pay large increases in wages and benefits if a union contract expires without a replacement. A house tax agency The 2011 law analysis notes testimony from the Royal Oak Schools Superintendent’s Committee, which said the district had faced this situation. The district’s contract with the union had expired and there was no new agreement. District officials had to pay two years of pay rises and increased benefits during the bargaining period.
The Michigan Employment Relations Commission told the district it had to pay $777,000 in pay increments and $955,000 in additional health care costs, even though it wasn’t part of a new contract. In such situations, union officials have no incentive to reach a new agreement, as their teachers receive salary increases and have additional health costs covered, even without a contract.
“For years, school districts in Michigan were plagued by constant tax disputes because unions locked in raises and then refused to negotiate in good faith,” said Jarret Skorup, director of marketing and communications at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, at Michigan Capitol Confidential. “Even after the contract expires, taxpayers would have to pay more and more money. The change in 2011 brings both sides to the bargaining table without putting citizens on the hook if the unions don’t want to negotiate. Repealing this is a bad idea.
Current law prohibits new union contracts from being retroactive. If a union contract expires and teachers have to pay more for health care as a result, the district is not obligated in its new contract to cover any costs incurred in the interim. The bill, introduced by Sen. Marshall Bullock, D-Detroit, would repeal that ban and leave school districts liable for additional costs incurred in the absence of a collective bargaining agreement.
Bullock has not yet responded to a request for comment.