Thursday, September 29, 2005

Important Informational Meeting

A big thanks goes out AGAIN to all of the members that came out to support the team last night. It must have been very encouraging for our team, as they came away with another bargaining date with the other team. That was our goal: KEEP BOTH SIDES TALKING! Well done, everyone!

What's next? We will have a General Membership Meeting tomorrow morning (9/30) from 7:00 - 7:30 am in the Holland High School Auditorium. It will be a quick but important bargaining update and a look at what our work will be in the days ahead. If that leaves you with a big timeframe before your school day begins, go out to breakfast with fellow members to discuss issues or just to celebrate!

Tonight we will run the phone tree once again, beginning at 9:00pm. We need everyone's help in closing the remaining gaps in this very important communications system. Please remember the general phonetree guidelines:

1. Have a copy of your phone tree at home and handy.

2. When you receive your call, write the message down to insure accuracy.

3. Call the next person on the list and relay the very same message. If you should reach an answering machine, leave the message on the machine and call the next person on the list to keep the tree going. If you get no answer and no machine, again, skip to the next person on the list. Don't stop until you've relayed the message to another live member.

4. Please do NOT leave messages with spouses, children or anyone else besides the member his-/herself. We cannot/should not rely on anyone other than members to transmit the message.

5. The last person on the list has the responsibility to call the AR that started your branch of the tree in order to confirm transmission of the message throughout the list.

Another request: AS you hear about them (like this email for example), please talk about these and all other HEA events with your fellow members in your buildings ("Did you hear about the meeting tomorrow?"). We apparently have some gaps in this email system as well and would like to reslove them. If you can identify someone that is NOT recieving these GroupWise notices, please contact me.

MENTORS: Please bring your mentees along on this HEA business. I hope that you can be there to help them understand their membership responsibilities (attending meetings, for starters). If you should have any questions about the mentor's role in the context of HEA business, please let me know.

Thank you ahead of time for your cooperation and participation in phone trees, attending meeting outside the school day, etc.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Message From HEA President Charles Bullard

It is not the desire of the Holland Education Association to ask teachers to withhold services from the children of Holland Public Schools. The teachers are determined to continue bargaining in good faith to reach a fair settlement however: an illegal imposition of a contract by the Holland Board of Education will require the HEA to explore all its options.


  • The Holland School Board imposed Focus Schools on the community without seeking parental input.
  • Now the Holland School Board is planning to illegally impose a contract on the Holland Public School teachers.
  • Should the Holland School Board impose its will again the teachers will be forced to take a strike vote.

Don’t let this happen again. Call your school board members and tell them to bargain with the teachers in good faith.

Steve Grose (President) 393-4912
Kevin Clark 335-3222

Doug Kamphuis 396-9666
Susan DeJong 335-9454

Larry Gavette 494-9919
David Laman 396-2656

Jack Gisinger 335-3969

If you have questions please call 355-1936.

Holland Education Crisis News

For the next two weeks we will be involved in some important activities. Your attendance and participation is critical. Please find below a list of important dates to put on your calendar.

Coffee Klatch Meeting
September 26 4:00 pm

The “Coffee Klatch” training is designed to give us the skills to dialogue with community members. Coffee Klatches have been proven to be the most effective means of communicating to our community. The way we deliver our message will determine the level of support we can garner within the Holland community. RSVP to your Building AR by Thursday, September 22
Location: HEA Crisis Center - 788 Columbia

General Membership Meeting
September 27 7:00 pm

Your attendance at this meeting is IMPORTANT! We will have MEA’s attorney, MEA staff, and a MESSA representative at this meeting to answer your questions. We will give you the latest on where HEA is in the bargaining process and what to expect next.
Location: Holland High Auditorium

Washington School Rally
September 28 5:30 pm

We are planning a big “send off” to our bargaining team. This rally will take place before the last bargaining session of the month. Surrounding area locals have been invited to help. Please show your support!
Location: Washington Administration Building

General Membership Meeting
September 29 6:00 a.m.

Very Important!!!
Location: TBD

Please plan to attend!!

For Immediate Release

September 22, 2005

Holland Community leaders from all walks of life were interviewed by a Crisis Assistance team of the Michigan Education Association (MEA) on Wednesday. The Holland teacher crisis was the subject of the survey.

“This is Phase One of our community outreach program,” said Martin Lankford, MEA Crisis Coordinator. “The Board imposed Focus Schools on the community. Now we believe they intend to impose a contract on the teachers.”

The Crisis Assistance team includes twelve field staff from MEA, a representative from the National Education Association, staff attorney Rick Long, and MEA General Counsel Art Przbylowicz. MEA Southern Zone Director Gretchen Dziadoz stated, “The full resources of the MEA are ready to support the Holland teachers.”

The 340 Holland teachers have been working without a contract since September 1.

The Holland Board recently severed their long-term relationship with attorney Bruce Lilly and hired attorney Barbara Ruga as their negotiator.

For related questions and information, please call Martin Lankford at 355-1936

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Holland Public Fast Facts #5

The current Holland teacher negotiations isn’t about money. It’s all about respect for the Holland community, the teachers and the educational future of Holland students.

  • The school board abandoned the traditional cooperative method of problem solving with the teachers by hiring an out-of-town attorney. It’s about respect for tradition.
  • The school board has ignored efforts by the teachers to settle the contract without spending the district’s surpluses. It’s about respect for teachers.
  • The school board has already defied the community’s wishes by privatizing school employees and restructuring neighborhood schools without community input. It’s about respect for the community.
  • The teachers have always recognized and respected the diversity of the community. They provide all students with a quality education. It’s about respect for the Holland community and its students.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

HEA Bargaining Update

Keeping You Informed
September 15, 2005

Your HEA negotiating team met with the board and their attorney, Barb Ruga on Tuesday September 13th. Some potential compromises on a couple of outstanding language issues were offered by our team, and a full response to their last proposal was given.

The board gave us some illustrative documents on their position as it relates to insurance. Bottom line is this, if you want ANY PLAN, even if it is substantively less than the current level of benefits you have so that your premium contributions (aka. pay cut to pay for it) aren’t very much this year; the district wants YOU to pay for any substantial increases in that plan going forward.

What does this mean to you? The answer is simple. YOU will be paying for future increases in benefit costs, OR you will subject yourself to a perpetual erosion of your benefits in the future. AND, all of this comes at no increased percentages to the salary schedule in either of the two years currently proposed by the district.

The board informed us that, no matter how we go about addressing the issue of attempting to meet the budget constraints of the district, their position on the insurance piece must be a part of this agreement.

We have our next negotiation date scheduled for September 28.

Holland Public Fast Facts #4

Holland Public School’s cost for teachers’ salaries is going DOWN!

YES, as a percentage of operating expenses it is true!

In the 2000-2001 school year teachers’ salaries represented 40.9% of the district’s operating expenses.*

In the 2003-2004 school year teachers’ salaries represented 36.3% of the district operating expenses.*

This is a DECREASE of


During the same time period the district’s profits (surpluses) went up 52%!**

The school board’s refusal to settle the teachers’ contract is NOT about money. So if it is not about money, why aren’t we settled?

Holland Public Fast Facts #3

What does the Holland School Board’s proposal detailed in the August 5, 2005, letter to Holland teachers really mean?

Consider these facts:

  • A teacher that requires health insurance would have $2,388 deducted from their pay in 2005-2006.
  • This equals a 7.2% salary reduction for a 1st year teacher.
  • It also equals a 3.7% salary reduction for a veteran teacher with a Master Degree plus.
If the same proposal is in place for the 2006-2007 school year:

  • A teacher that requires health insurance would have $5,153 deducted from their pay.
  • This equals a 15.5% salary reduction for a 1st year teacher.
  • It also equals an 8% salary reduction for a veteran teacher with a Master’s Degree plus.

The teachers have shown the district how to settle the 2005-06 contract without spending any of the District’s surpluses!
The school board can afford our proposal. They don’t need salary rollbacks to inflate their annual profits (surpluses.)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Holland Public Fast Facts #2

Has the Holland School Board abandoned its long standing practice of cooperative problem solving?

Consider these facts:

  • The School Board severed its relationship with their long time attorney.
  • The School Board hired attorney BARB RUGA.
  • BARB RUGA is the same attorney that was involved in the prolonged bargaining last year in both Kentwood and Kenowa Hills!
  • Both Kentwood and Kenowa Hills lost enrollment during their long drawn-out bargaining!
  • These districts paid their attorney over $350,00O during the prolonged bargaining!
  • Numerous illegal bargaining charges had to be filed against the School Boards by Kentwood and Kenowa Hills teachers!
  • Kenowa Hills’ parents circulated recall petitions against school board members!
  • BARB RUGA left Kentwood and Kenowa Hills divided communities!
Do these facts support continuation of the cooperative attitude that has been a tradition in Holland for years?

Cooperation – NO!


Holland Public Fast Facts #1

Amount of tax money collected by the District PER CLASSROOM that was not spent in 2003-2004 to educate the children of Holland.

Increase in the District’s surplus (fund balance) over the past 4 years (2000-04.)

Amount teachers’ salary costs, as a percentage of operating costs, have decreased over the same period.

Amount of instructional salaries and INSURANCE COSTS including teachers, as a percentage of operating costs, have decreased over the same period.

Amount of additional cuts needed to balance the 2005-06 budget.

Even with the District’s inept ability to budget accurately for 2004-05 the District’s surpluses are relatively equal to 2000-01 when the contract was settled equitably and cooperatively.

The School Board’s refusal to settle the teachers’ contract is NOT about money. In fact, the teachers have shown the district how to settle the 2005-06 contract without spending any of the District’s surpluses!

* Data source, District Audits.
** MI Dept. Of Ed. Form B reports.
This fact sheet was paid for by Holland Public Teachers at no cost to Holland taxpayers. For ALL kids, WE deliver!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Crisis Team Update 9/8/05

Your HEA Crisis Team is mobilized and has met on a number of occasions to plan activities which support the efforts of our bargaining team. Please mark your calendars with the following events:

There will be a Coffee Klatch Training at 4:00 pm at the Holland Teachers’ Crisis Center. We need your help in spreading the truth about bargaining to members of our community. If you can attend this training please do so. This is a very positive way to address our community.

September 22: Open house at the Holland Teacher’s Crisis Center located in the Maplewood Arcade at 788 Columbia (we ask that you park in the back of the building and enter through the back door). Please stop by after school and check out our new “digs”, have a few refreshments and rub elbows with members of the Crisis Team. Free gifts for all members!

Our Bookmarks, which contained valuable information for parents, attracted the attention of superintendent Frank Garcia. HEA president Charles Bullard and chief negotiator Jon Toppen were called into his office and reminded that distributing union publications in a school or at a school function requires the approval of the building administrator.

Data Cards: If you have not yet filled out a data card, PLEASE get one from any building AR. We need EVERYONE’S data! The return them to Rick Slachta at the high school.

Ribbons: Remember to wear your bright green ribbons everyday. They send a subtle yet powerful message. If you need one, contact Donna Wehrmeyer at Jefferson.

HEA Bargaining Update

Keeping You Informed
September 8, 2005

Your HEA negotiating team met with the board and their attorney, Barb Ruga on Tuesday September 6. The majority of the evening was spent having Ms. Ruga hand out a bunch of documents relative to the final figures they have prepared for the 2004-2005 audit.

To paraphrase this rather lengthy presentation, “the board and administration made an inept $900,000 mistake in how much they thought stuff was going to cost last year. It was the fault of computer software and the people using it.”

None of the facts presented last night have anything to do with the board’s ability to reach a fair contract agreement with our teachers. The fact is, for the 4 years prior to 2004-2005, the district settled contracts with us and grew their fund balance. This major mistake in the board and administration’s ability to manage the school’s finances still only drops the fund balance to the level it was in 2000-2001. Four year’s worth of fair negotiated settlements have occurred since then.

There is no reason to think that another one can’t and shouldn’t be expected now.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Crisis Committee Update

Our Holland Education Association (HEA) office is located at 788 Columbia, off the corner of 32nd St. and Columbia. Parking is located in the back of the building.

The Crisis Committee has met six times this month. sometimes those meetings included MEA resource people and sometimes just our district committee. One meeting specifically was a three hour public relations training given by MEA representative, Rosemary Carey.

We will communicate information and activities that we expect you to support and participate in our efforts. Our goal is to raise community awareness and send positive messages that we are hardworking and a huge asset in the community.

Our first positive message/activity will be bookmarks with our slogan, school phone numbers and Fall Parent/Teacher conference Dates. These will be delivered by your AR’s on Tuesday, to be passed out during Open House that evening.

AR’s will be checking phone trees again soon to make sure we can get you urgent messages in a timely fashion. When contacted with a phone tree message please call the next person on the list , identifying the message as a "HEA phone tree" message. If you reach a live person, they should continue the phone tree. If you should reach an answering machine, leave the message and then call the next number on the phone tree. The last person on the phone tree should in turn call the AR to verify that the message has been successfully cycled.

Main line: 355-1936
Fax: 355-1947
Crisis Hotline: 355-1933

Committee Co-Chairs are as follows:

Rick Slachta 393-0333
Joy Klawiter 392-3119

Public Relations
Tam Troff 786-0242
Linda Bodkins 772-9052
Greg Van Portfleet 399-9183

Donna Wehrmeyer 399-6558
Kay Mayer 335-5176

Dawn Perez-Pala 335-8935
Patti Arndt 269-857-7858

David Bast 836-8625
Gregg Kirchen 269-857-4075

Merri Martens 335-5552
Bob Zwiers 772-1707

Rumor Control
Jillayne Wallaker 399-0787
Jay Woods 738-0530