13 Oct West Bloomfield Education Association Master Agreement
Lori Tunick was one of the few unionists from outside the district to comment on Thursday. She said West Bloomfield would go through difficult times because of her experience in Southfield Public Schools, where she claimed to have worked for 12 years and was only under contract with three of them, due to the board`s decision. “I`ve never seen a board rush to make such a decision. The school didn`t wake up last week and didn`t say, `I think we`re broke,`” the Southfield-Lathrup biology professor said to nervous laughter and applause. “Five years ago, you knew things were going to go wrong. Look at what other districts are doing. It won`t get better overnight – think about what you`re doing, how you`re hurting these people. It must be a just peace. Ahead of the public comments, trustees Melanie Torbert and Matt Chase launched their dissenting voices to thunderous applause, citing poor bargaining tactics on both sides and regretting the decision. “I have never had and have never been afraid to impose a contract. My concern is the lack of structural changes in the Council`s proposal.
This council hijacked this process and made fun of it. I don`t see how the end justifies the means,” said Torbert, a board member since 2005. “I was appalled by the obvious boasting that the district was the fastest to get information,” Chase said of other school districts that were resolving their contract negotiations over long periods of time. “An agreement could have been reached if both sides had been serious about the negotiations.” The meeting ended with a comment from Superintendent JoAnn Andrees, who expressed deep regret about the imposition in a sympathetic and consistent tone. When Andrees spoke of “reaching a mutual agreement,” members of the teachers` union left the auditorium in droves while yelling at her, and she began to speak louder. “The goal is to make further progress in positive but financially responsible actions. I had hoped that this day would never come. We must control our destiny and take care of our future. Without this decision tonight, we continue to cut until we decimate the district,” Andrees said.
Randi Sakwa, Nelson Hirsch, Raman Singh, Bruce Tobin and Einstandig voted yes. Of the five, only Tobin and Einstandig spoke during the meeting. “The union`s absolute reluctance to accept the concept of a permanent reduction in the district`s budget compared to a `one-off economy` is an uncertain obstacle and one of the most concrete blocks that has led to a stalemate,” Einstandig said. “Each of you sitting here is fully aware that this permanent cut has led to a complete dead end.” “As long as there was money in the bank, we gave it to our teachers.