Update on MTEA Meet & Confer with District

President Amy Mizialko speaks with MTEA members following a meet and confer session with MPS Administration (Photo: Joe Brusky).

The MTEA Bargaining Team met with MPS Administration Tuesday for a Meet & Confer session. The session included positive testimony from MTEA members who are Speech and Language Pathologists, Sign Language Interpreters, and Registered Nurses.

Speech and Language Pathologists

Elizabeth Sedita and Kendra Robinson spoke on behalf of the speech pathologists (Photo: Joe Brusky).

We help organize a recruitment lunch for graduate students in their final year to come and work for MPS. Beside student teaching it’s one of our most popular ways of gaining additional speech language pathologists, but it’s something we have to pay for out of our own pocket. The H.R. process is such a long process we’ve lost people. They said we applied we haven’t heard anything so if they don’t contact an additional person it’s really hard for them to get through the process.

– Elizabeth Sedita and Kendra Robinson

Interpreters

MPS has a problem retaining qualified interpreters because we are not paid a competitive wage. As a result we have high turnover. Being an interpreter is a profession. Our career is expensive. On top of a degree, interpreters are required to obtain and maintain certifications and licensure that ensures we are qualified. A specialized license through DPI requires our license to be renewed every five years and we have to fulfill 75 hours of PD requirements to maintain our license. The district offers no relevant PD to us so that 75 hours to maintain our credentials to stay legally employed falls on us.
 
Maybe the district is satisfied with the idea of the revolving door of private contracted workers, but our students are suffering. Imagine if you had a different regular education classroom with a different substitute teacher every day. It’s a terrible idea. It’s a mess. Our students need stability. We need to hire interpreters and stop spending exorbitant amounts of money on contractors and invest in our own people. A higher salary for interpreters, paid time for prep, a career path with steps and lanes, compensation for our experience and our additional credentials and reimbursements along with our required license fees.

– Brittany Peters and Casey Thomm

Registered Nurses

School Nurse Sarah Gruettner speaks on behalf of the district’s union nurses (Photo: Joe Brusky).

We have registered nurses who are new hires and they are making more than seasoned nurses who’ve been in the district for 5+ years. We have a nurse who started in February 2019 who’s making more money than a nurse who’s been in the district since 2007.”
 
We have an unfair attendance policy for the department that works the closest with our sick kiddos. When we have sick kiddos with the flu and mom and dad can’t come and get them for five hours, they’re in our office and we care for them. When we get the flu we’re told to use FMLA for it. We’re told we can’t use our sick time without getting in trouble for it.

– Sarah Gruettner

Members spoke to the disastrous effects of MPS eliminating salary schedules which has caused staff turnover to spike and several hundred vacancies. This has cost MPS significant amounts of money and hurts our students. Without salary schedules that are competitive in EVERY job class, we can’t attract the best for our students. Subcontracting further hurts our students and costs the district millions every year.

The district has agreed to salary schedule work groups which will begin in April.

The bargaining team also spoke to our demand for equitable treatment for all MPS workers from our Meet & Confer Platform.

We demand district policies that provide equal treatment to all MPS workers. This includes attendance policies, discipline and due process, pay during school closures, etc.

Then, management said no.

  • No to Time.
  • No to a Bilingual Workgroup.
  • No to our Safety, Climate & Culture Proposal
  • No to more time for Special Education teachers to meet their individualized IEP demands

Our team responded that our students cannot wait.

We have many buildings where elementary principals have thrown up their hands and walked away from their duty to make sure that school buildings are safe, warm welcoming and orderly so educators can teach and children can learn. That is the truth. We don’t believe that you don’t know that. We believe that you do know that. What you do have in front of you are a group of committed, determined, persevering educators who have made this district their professional home and will continue to do so. We are unwilling to walk into another school year pretending that we don’t know what we know about safety, discipline, climate, and culture in our schools.

– Amy Mizialko

Without good faith discussions in these sessions, MTEA members must take the fight to MPS. In less than one week, we can elect a School Board that champions public schools and will create a budget that starts with our students and educators. Click here to RSVP to canvass for the school board our students deserve.

We’ll need to mobilize to School Board meetings, actions and take this budget fight to Madison! Public education workers and our students can’t wait any longer.