Friday, October 28, 2005

Welcome to the HEA Blog!

This blog is the internet information source for the HEA. The HEA is currently in a crisis situation in regard to their current contract negotiation. The HEA crisis committee will post updates at this blog frequently.

If you need to contact the HEA, please check the link that says "view my complete profile."

Please support Holland teachers!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Bargaining Update-October 27, 2005

HEA Bargaining Update


Administrators? School board members? Telephone calls and e-mails must have had a strong impact. The very first thing the school board did at tonight's bargaining session was to withdraw their outrageous proposal on class size, prep time, length of day, etc. We are back to current language on that entire contract article. Thank you to all that sent such a powerful message to the board. IT WORKED!

The disappointing part of the evening occurred shortly after that. Bargaining team members from both sides met in small groups to review financial information. The board once again confirmed its entrenched position that an agreement must include a downgrade in the health plan with a cap. Oh, we forgot to tell you last night they increased the amount the board is willing to pay by slightly over $3.00. Yes, you read that right, three dollars! Also their proposal includes a higher drug card. That was their response to our movement of over $1,000.00 per member per year. Go figure.

New tonight, in the traditional Barb Ruga style that she made famous in Kentwood and Kenowa Hills, she regressed in her health care proposal. Now her health care proposal states that when a member retires or resigns their health benefits expire at the end of the month not at the end of September as the contract provides for now.

The school board titled their salary and benefit proposal as their "Final Economic Proposal." However, the board did agree to two additional mediation sessions. Those bargaining sessions are scheduled for 11/2/05 at 5:30 PM and 11/9/05 at 4:30 PM.

Please remember and attend the HEA General Membership meeting scheduled for Tuesday November 1, 2005 at 5:00 PM in the HS auditorium.

Thank you for your continued support.

In unity there's strength.

Your Bargaining Team

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Bargaining Update-October 26, 2005

The bargaining teams from both side met tonight in full table bargaining. Your HEA bargaining team made their offical proposal that included moving to fully paid MESSA Choices II. The Board team's response occured within 30 minutes by rejecting our offer and countering with a twenty-page document that included a cap on insurance as well as a freesze on salary and 1/2 steps.

The board also presented a new regressive proposal that guts the current contract language on class size, prep time, length of the school day, overload pay and calendar. This proposal would increase class size as much as five students per class at some grade levels and overload pay would be based on groups of students instead of a per student calculation.

Your bargaining team was outraged by the board's new proposal because we were lead to believe at our last mediation session that with our new proposal we would be close to the target needed to reach an agreement. Tonight that target moved again.

We do have another mediation sesssion scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, 10/27/05 at 4:30 P.M.

We will provide another bargaining update by e-mail at the conclusion of tomorrow's session. An HEA general membership meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, November 1, 2005 at 5:00 P.M. in the HS auditorum (tentative location).

In unity there's strength.

Your Bargaining Team

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Holland Education Association Bargaining Announcement

Good afternoon and thank you for coming, my name is Rick Slachta and I’m here today as a representative of Holland teachers and the Holland Education Association. I have a brief prepared statement and then I will be happy to take your questions.

No one can believe that the recent public debate over the negotiations between the Holland teachers and the Holland school board has been healthy for our community and our community’s future.

Holland teachers have said repeatedly that we would have preferred that the Board use the bargaining process it employed successfully for over a decade to resolve our differences. That process kept bargaining at the bargaining table and out of the public forum. Unfortunately, that has not happened.

As a result of this public forum we have talked with and listened to a broad cross section of the Holland community over the past several weeks. From those discussions we have concluded that if our community and our school system are going to continue to survive and thrive, important and profound changes are called for.

The Board’s repeated public announcements about their bargaining positions have prompted the community to request information from teachers, asking how the bargaining conflict can be resolved. Specifically, the question has been how we, as a community, can address the challenges facing Holland Public Schools.

The community has spoken and we have listened.

Holland teachers believe now is the time to provide leadership and address the communities concerns. The Holland community and Holland teachers share a common concern about the future of Holland Public Schools. That is why we are proposing a broad based public initiative we believe will both take the future of Holland Public Schools in a positive direction and resolve our bargaining crisis.

But we do not believe it can stop there. We all recognize the financial challenges facing Holland Public Schools. To meet those challenges we are asking the school board to join us in an action plan to take control of our shared future.

We agree with statements made at the last school board meeting by school board member Kevin Clark when he stated we must work on the variables that are within our control. We believe that we must begin to do that now!

The Holland Public School teachers asks the Holland Board of Education to enter with us into a “Contract With Our Community” to restore the bonds of trust between the community and the Holland School District and work together to gain control of our shared futures. The contract will provide a detailed agenda to move our school district and our community forward:

First, within the next 60 days a community task force is formed with participation from parents, educators, business leaders and local media to address retention of Holland students in the Holland Public Schools. Together we can reverse this downward spiral of student enrollment. This is variable that we control.

Second, bring together community members, business leaders, educators and local media to coordinate efforts to bring Holland tax dollars to Holland Public Schools through a county wide millage enhancement. Currently this is the only means to generate new revenues for Holland Public Schools. This is a variable that we control.

Third, the School Board and teachers will seek and will act on input from the community regarding strengthening our community school models. This is a variable that we control.

Fourth, the community, local media, the school board and Holland teachers will jointly lobby our area legislators to provide legislation that will adequately fund Holland Public Schools. Input into our democratic process is a variable that we control.

To fulfill our “Contract With Our Community” both the School Board and the Holland teachers must be freed from the energy sapping storm of confrontational bargaining. We must get beyond the bargaining and have a settled contract, not an imposed contract.

Unfortunately, the school board still seems determined to illegally impose or force contract changes on Holland teachers at tomorrow’s bargaining session. The board plans to do this without reaching a mutual agreement. That action will not provide a resolution of the current dispute either for the teachers or for the community. The bargaining will not stop, litigation will begin and the divisions within our community will continue. The education of our children will suffer, our community and businesses will suffer and our public school system will begin to come apart at the seams. That is just too high a price to pay!

To avoid that path of certain destruction and to enable our “Contract With Our Community” to be successful the teachers’ bargaining team will present a proposal to resolve the ongoing bargaining conflict. Holland teachers will drop our demand to maintain the current traditional health insurance plan and will propose a significant change by moving to a new less costly PPO health insurance plan. The Holland teachers would become only the second teacher group in Ottawa County to shift to a PPO. This change represents nearly $1,000.00 per teacher per year in give backs to the Holland Public Schools and calculates to almost a million dollars in savings over the next three years.

We hope the school board will also examine their current position and agree to meet us at this middle ground in order to resolve this conflict.

With labor peace and our shared vision of a thriving high quality Holland School District this “Contract With Our Community” will bring together four powerful forces needed to meet our future challenges: community members and business leaders, the Holland Board of Education, Holland teachers and the Holland media. We urge the Holland Board of Education to join us in this initiative. In our unity lies our strength.
Thank you.

News Release

October 24, 2005

Subject: Press Conference

CONTACT: Marty Lankford, MEA Uniserv Director

Holland Teachers to Announce a Major Bargaining Initiative

Holland teachers will announce a bold new contract initiative at a press conference scheduled for Tuesday, October 25, 2005. “We are determined to bargain a resolution with the Holland Board of Education. Our new initiative will provide the path to ensure a good faith agreement can be reached at this Wednesday’s mediation session,” stated HEA President Charles Bullard.

The press conference is scheduled for:

Tuesday, October 25, 2005
5:10 PM
Holland City Hall (front steps)
270 South River Ave.
Holland, MI

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Holland Public Fast Facts #7

School District’s projected “budget deficit” based on the District’s November 17, 2004, 3 year financial plan given to Holland teachers.

School District’s projected “budget surplus” based on the District’s October 10, 2005, 3 year financial plan. This projection is based on the same salary and benefits used in the November 2004 projection.

2004-2005 budgeting ERROR admitted by the district.

Difference between the school district’s November 2004 and October 2005 budget projections with the budgeting error included.

How can two projections just 11 months apart, based on the same factors have a difference over $2,400,000?

The school district’s future projections just don’t carry any credibility.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

HEA Bargaining Update - October 11, 2005

“Keeping You Informed”

Mediation began at 4:00 p.m. yesterday. The negotiation session lasted until about 11:30 p.m. Here is a brief synopsis of what occurred.

Discussions were held in small groups. There was no full table bargaining.

Our team was given another spreadsheet projection of the district’s financial projections for this year and the future. This makes 3 different projections in the last 3 rounds of bargaining.

We resurrected a “Three Year Financial Planning Document” given to us during the last round of negotiations on November 17, 2004. Just 11 months ago, the district’s projected reality for THIS YEAR proves to be $1.5 million in error (on the side of gloom and doom, of course).

There appears to be quite a ways to go before an agreement can be reached.

We have our next negotiation session with the mediator on October 26th at 4:30 p.m.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Holland Public Fast Facts #6

How much have Holland teachers contributed to preserve the financial stability of Holland Public Schools?

Consider these facts:
  • Holland teacher`s have agreed to a salary schedule freeze for the last three years.
  • $3,600,000 is the total savings realized by the school district from these concessions.
  • Holland teachers have agreed to insurance concessions over the last few years.
  • $1, 005,000 is the total savings realized by the school district from these concessions.




When it comes to making tough decisions for Holland Public Schools, Holland teachers do their part!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

HEA President Seeks Legal Opinion

After three successive Fridays of threatening e-mails delivered from the school district to teachers in their classroom, Holland Education Association President Charles Bullard requested a legal opinion from MEA general counsel Art Przyblowicz. That opinion was delivered to the school board at this Monday’s school board meeting by Van Raalte elementary teacher Ethel Barendse.

In Mr. Przybylowicz’s response he stated the following: “It is my further understanding that your members have been greatly disturbed by these aggressive and coercive messages while they fulfill their professional responsibilities. This disruption to the educational process flows from the Board’s continuing coercive and threatening remarks, as the teachers continue to perform their valuable services to the community in the face of threats they will be fired and lose their pay and benefits and dispite continued claims by representatives of the Board that the Board will impose a contract.”

Mr. Przybylowicz further stated, “Perhaps if the Board were more attentive to its own behavior and legal position in bargaining and less concerned with consistently threatening your members, more would be done to solve the differences between the parties.

The HEA should request that the District immediately cease and desist from threatening, intimidating and coercing teachers. Please be assured that MEA Legal Services will continue to assist your members to ensure that the Holland Board of Education ceases its improper conduct and immediately begins to negotiate in good faith.”

Charles Bullard stated after the school board meeting that Holland Education Association has amended its charges that the Holland School Board has violated the Public Employment Relations Act (“PERA”).

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Dear Members,

I am sure that you were as dismayed as we were this past Friday after receiving another “Friday Threat Letter”.

The most recent letter states that the Board is "committed to ensuring that our children learn". Apparently disrupting the learning process on a Friday afternoon is, in their mind, a good thing for our students and their education. Then they go on to threaten to fire the teachers that have helped our students achieve AYP in every building.

Such action is extremely disappointing since both sides agreed that last Wednesday’s bargaining session showed promise with the beginning of mediation and more October bargaining dates set. Considering the spirit of cooperation implied by Wednesday's result, we can't explain why the Board feels this harassment is necessary.

The HEA is filing a grievance on behalf of all HEA members against the Board for interfering with the educational process. At a meeting last night MEA legal counsel was advised of the situation. Their preliminary opinion was that this pattern of threats likely violates our contract as well as PERA. They will be amending our unfair labor practice complaint against the District today. Their official opinion will be delivered to the Board at tonight’s Special Board Meeting.

At tonight’s meeting a representative group of HEA members will be present to show support and monitor the Board’s actions. Members will also be making public comments. If you would like to attend please feel free. The meeting begins at 5:30pm at the East Middle School Cafeteria. Following the meeting the HEA phone tree will be activated to summarize any action by the Board.

Please remember that the scare tactics being employed by the Board and administration are to be expected as part of their attempt to divide and demoralize our ranks. Instead we should continue to be professionals in our classrooms and support each other through this difficult period.

Thanks for your continued support,

Jon Toppen, Chief Negotiator
Rick Slachta, Crisis Team Chairperson