What’s the MTI political endorsement about?

In 2006-07 the Madison School district will spend $43.5M on health insurance for its employees, the majority of the money paying for insurance for teachers represented by Madison Teachers, Inc. (MTI) That is 17% of the operating budget under the revenue limits.
In June of 2007, the two-year contract between the district and MTI ends. The parties are now beginning negotiations for the 2007-09 contract.
The Sun Prairie School district and its teachers union recently saved substantial dollars on health insurance. They used the savings to improve teacher wages. The parties joined together openly and publicly to produce a statement of the employees health needs. Then they negotiated a health insurance package with a local HMO that met their needs.
The Madison School district has no choice but to look for ways to reduce future health insurance costs, while keeping a high quality of care. What we pay our teachers in the future depends on it–both in wages and in post-retirement benefits. What we can offer to our children in programs depends on it.
We have made some progress in reducing future health insurance costs for some of the union-represented employees and for our administrators. I hope that board members elected in April will continue down this path. It’s not an easy path.
MTI plays hard ball in its election endorsements. It is looking for candidates that will continue coverage by Wisconsin Physicians Services (WPS)—no matter what else is available. It is also telling the incumbents what kind of treatment to expect from executive director John Matthews if the incumbent takes his or her board role seriously enough to represent the kids’ interest at the negotiating table. For an example, see MTI’s newsletter for late January:
http://www.madisonteachers.org/Solidarity/Solidarity%2006-07/solid012207.pdf [65K PDF]