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MTI challenges Madison Schools' survey asking employees about budget

(NBC15)
Published: Jun. 8, 2020 at 5:17 PM CDT
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The union representing Madison Metropolitan School District teachers wants the school district’s recent survey asking its employees budget-related questions pulled and the results of those surveys deleted altogether.

In

, Madison Teachers, Inc., claimed the survey subverted its ability to bargain on behalf of the teachers. A spokesperson for MMSD told NBC15 the survey’s questions included ones related to the budget as well as asking respondents their work plans for the coming year.

“We have always valued staff voice in our decision making process on decisions that impact them, and this was a part of that practice,” MMSD’s Tim LeMonds said.

MTI Executive Director Ed Sadlowski, however, contended the survey goes beyond violating the collective bargaining rights of the district’s employees. He argues it also threatens reprisal against the workers, in the form of 92 full-time employees being eliminated.

“It is illegal for an employer to bypass the democratically certified bargaining representative and to attempt to bargain with MTI represented employees individually,” he said.

In its complaint, MTI highlighted a question reportedly labeled “Budget Options” that claimed a $5 million to $9 million budget gap and gave two respondents two options:

  • Maintaining compensation increases for staff with steps/longevity, lanes and a 1% base wage increase ($8M budgeted), but eliminating 92 more FTE positions before August and redoing staffing plans for the fall.
  • Freezing steps/longevity and base wage increases for one year, while maintaining lane movement, and avoiding any elimination of FTE positions and avoiding significant changes to our staffing plans or class sizes for the fall.

MTI President Andy Waity said about the survey “Given the many stresses and challenges facing our members we were really taken aback that the administration chose to approach things in this divisive and disrespectful manner.”

In responding to a request for a comment on the complaint, LeMonds said district officials have not had time to go over it.

“[A]s we were just made aware of it, so we have no comment at this point,” he added.

Discussions over Handbook changes had been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic and MTI said the union was just now able to focus on possible changes to the Handbook and the issue of whether the district should recognize it as the certified bargaining agent for most MMSD employees.

In a statement released by the union, MTI claimed MMSD had asked it discuss changes that would “eliminate seniority and allow surplus and layoff decisions to be made solely at the discretion of the administration. MTI spokesperson Michelle Michalak said the organization could not agree to that proposal and it is concerned the district will impose changes unilaterally; something, she notes has not been done since they agreed on the guidelines in 2015.

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