MTEA Public Education Workers: Unstoppable Together!

MTEA Bargaining Team (All Photos: Joe Brusky).

On Thursday, March 7th, our MTEA Bargaining Team met with MPS Administration to present many of our economic demands. Those demands include:

  •  Salary schedules for every job class with steps for experience and lanes for certifications, licensure, and training
  •  40 hours of work for those workers who want it
  •  No increases to health insurance costs meaning no increase in employee premium payments or co-pays and other out of pocket costs
  •  Health insurance for full-time substitute teachers
  •  A return to the prior retirement formula
  •  The restoration of prior retirement benefits

All of these proposals are part of the MTEA Meet and Confer Platform. Be sure to read the platform and share with other MTEA members in your school or department.

Our MTEA Bargaining Team and other member speakers spoke to the importance of each of these proposals, both for MTEA members and to the future of MPS and its students.

Salary Schedules for Every Job Class

Cory Bova, a teacher at Rufus King High School, spoke to the destructive effect that the elimination of the teacher salary schedule has had on real wages for educators and to the retention of educators in the district. Bova spoke about his own salary and how, going into his 8th year of teaching, he is less than $2000 above the starting teacher salary. That effect has forced many high quality educators to leave the district, going to suburban districts surrounding Milwaukee. Bova pressed Administration to fix the problem so that we are not the training ground for suburban districts but instead become the standard for the whole state.

One Job Should Be Enough

Crystal Ealy, the President of the ESP 150 unit, demanded that every MPS job class be given the respect of a salary schedule with credit for experience and education that benefits students. She drove home that One Job Should Be Enough, and that educational assistants are vital to our students and their education and should not have to work two, three and four jobs. Combined with 40 hours of work for those employees who want to work 40 hours, MPS must achieve real, family sustaining compensation for every worker in the district.

Anita Blue, the President of the ESP-150 unit, “Why do we keep coming back asking the same question: Can we have a decent living wage?”

Full Time Substitute Teachers Deserve Health Insurance

MTEA and the “Fighting Subs” continued the demand for health insurance for every full time worker in MPS. Despite a School Board motion supposedly giving many full time substitutes the opportunity for health insurance, real movement towards our ultimate goal has been obstructed. Alex Brower, the President of our Substitute Teacher unit, pushed MPS Administration to recognize the dignity of the work of our Substitute Teachers, and to immediately move to restore their health insurance benefits if they work more than 30 hours a week on average.

Restoring the past retirement formula and retirement benefits

Rogers Street Teacher Meg Skwierawski, MTEA Deputy Executive Director Ed Sadlowski, and Kilbourn Teacher Shari Redel speak to MPS Administration during Thursday’s Meet & Confer (Photo: Joe Brusky).

MTEA Bargaining Team members, Shari Redel, teacher at Kilbourn and Meg Skwierawski, teacher at Rogers Street, called on MPS Administration to restore the retirement formula and benefits that MPS Administration and MPS School Board took away in  summer of 2013:  55 years of age, 15 years of service and 812 banked sick hours.  They also spoke of how women, the majority of educators in MPS, face significant, unfair obstacles to accumulating sick hours if they choose to have children and/or are primary caregivers for aging parents. Every public education worker in the district, including those hired after summer 2013, deserve retirement benefits.  

For MPS to attract and retain the best educators for MPS students, Administration must move quickly to re-establish real salary schedules with steps and lanes for every job class in the district.  Over 2000 MPS workers earn poverty wages.  To attract and retain the best public education workers in MPS, 40 hours of work must be offered to all who desire 40 hours. For MPS to ensure continuity of quality teaching and learning when teachers are absent, substitute teachers working full time must be given back healthcare benefits stolen from them by previous MPS Administration and MPS school board.  To attract and retain a stable workforce, MPS must ensure that healthcare insurance costs must be held at current levels with no increases to premiums, co-pays or other out of pocket costs.