Legality of teacher bargaining unit questioned

Sandy Cullen:

A behind-the-scenes dispute over whether Madison School Board member Lawrie Kobza should be allowed to vote on the district’s next teachers contract has led to her questioning the legality of the teachers bargaining unit.
That, in turn, has brought charges from Madison Teachers Inc. that Kobza is trying to break up the teachers bargaining unit.
The issue of whether Kobza – whose husband is employed as a high school soccer coach under the MTI teachers contract -should recuse herself from negotiating and voting on the 2007-2009 contract was raised last fall by School Board member and former MTI president Bill Keys.

Owen Robinson has more.

6 thoughts on “Legality of teacher bargaining unit questioned”

  1. Thank you Lawrie for looking into the budget. I respect you for looking at things in different ways in order to save the district money. As many have said in the past but you are proving, you are looking at what is best for the children.
    Yes, I think Mr. Keys should have been questioned being he was a retired teacher receiving a retirement package from MTI. I feel that Lawrie’s husband is 1)receiving money for a very part time position and then donating the money back to the district is very honorable.
    I hope more on the school board will also think out of the box like this.

  2. Could someone possibly post the relevant part of the MTI-MMSD contract that prohibits a person from volunteering “coaching services.” I wonder whether the language applies only to coaches. If it might apply to all volunteers in general, the whole Schools of Hope project, and many others, would be in danger of ending soon.

  3. This may be the relevant language, which defines members of the MTI bargaining unti:
    “All employees identified as non-faculty personnel in the capacity of athletic directors, athletic coaches, dramatics coaches, newspaper advisors, yearbook advisors, band directors, bookstore managers, choir directors, orchestra directors, cheerleading advisors,pom pon advisors and drama assistants, pursuant to WERC Certification of the Results of an Election Decision 26881A.”
    I wonder what implications might arise by making an $1,800-a-year-coach a member of the bargaining unit. Does the coach get all rights under the contract, including the annual raises bargained by the union? Does the coach pay union dues, and would the dues total more than $1,800/year?
    Thanks to a kind soul for sending me the language.

  4. State Ethics Board standards say that local public officials cannot take official action on matters in which they or their immediate family have a “substantial financial interest”.
    I’d argue that $1,800 is not a “substantial financial interest”! Certainly not as substantial as Mr. Matthews’ $10k/year from serving on the WPS board…but then that’s what this is all about anyway: political tit for tat.

  5. If I remember my tax law, if Peter is assigning his pay to the Foundation for Madison Public Schools, he, and therefore Lawrie have no financial interests. He never takes possession of the wages. Therefore there is no conflict.
    But, it depends on how that assignment takes place, the legal terms etc. And, of course, on current tax law, which I’m not familiar with.
    I’ll look up this area, just for grins, and my own satisfication.

  6. Why in the world would District Administration want or allow extracurricular positions to be included in the MTI contract? I’d certainly like to know what else is included in the contract relative to these positions because:
    1. The district is always raising athletic fees and/or threatening to eliminate athletic programs.
    2. It may be the district is actually overpaying these positions because they are included in the MTI contract when, in fact, they could be volunteer positions and/or student/teacher positions from UW/Edgewood/MATC and elsewhere.
    3. Has the contract for these positions given these coaches more money/benefits than would ordinarily be paid, just because most of them are teachers?
    4. What provisions, if any, have granted teachers first rights on these positions and excluded others?
    There seems to be no end to what Rainwater will do for MTI to keep the peace, while sticking it to students and taxpayers in the Madison district.

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