Does it matter to you when school begins in the fall? How about when and how long winter or spring break is? And, how about when the school year ends? Have you thought about how many days you work for your annual salary, or how many hours make up your school day? In members’ responses to many years of MTI bargaining surveys, all of these factors are “very important” to those in MTI’s various bargaining units.
It was MTI’s case in 1966 which gave teacher unions an equal voice in establishing all of the above. Ruling for MTI, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the school calendar is a mandatory subject of bargaining, meaning that a school district in Wisconsin must negotiate with the union to determine each of the factors described above. However, Governor Walker’s Act 10 reversed the Supreme Court’s ruling, because Act 10 removed workers’ rights to collectively bargain. And now to make it worse, there is a legislative proposal to enable school boards to unilaterally increase the number of hours in a school day.
Walker’s Act 10 enables a school board without a good conscience to abuse staff, especially teachers, because teachers are paid an annual salary not on an hourly basis. MTI’s victory before Judge Colas found Act 10, in great part, to be unconstitutional, which in turn enabled MTI to negotiate Collective Bargaining Agreements for MTI’s five bargaining units for 2014-15. Walker’s appeal of Judge Colas’ decision to the Supreme Court is pending decision. District management meantime, has refused to bargain over the calendar for the 2015-16 school year. This negativity not only impacts teachers’ planning for the 2015-16 school year, but is also causing families not to be able to plan ahead. Many families often plan vacations, weddings and other family and religious events years in advance.