GR Schools Has Tentative Pact
“We are very pleased to announce that we have reached a tentative settlement,” said Ben Emdin, chief operations officer for the Grand Rapids Public Schools. “This is good news for all of us as we become the ‘new’ Grand Rapids Public Schools, working together and focused on student success.”
The new contract reflects:
- A two-year agreement with a 1.5 percent salary increase in 2004-2005 and 1.5 percent increase in 2005-2006.
- Agreement on a new employee health package, the MESSA “Choices II” PPO Plan.
- Agreement to use the equivalent of a 0.5 percent increase in salaries the second year in order to offset large increases in health insurance costs.
“This new plan will provide quality coverage for our employees and save the district money,” said Emdin.
MEA represents approximately 3,300 Grand Rapids Public Schools employees in five bargaining units — Grand Rapids Education Association (teachers), Grand Rapids Educational Officers Association (JROTC and Family Support Specialists), Grand Rapids Educational Support Personnel Association (bus drivers, custodians, food service, supply and skilled trades), Grand Rapids Association of Educational Office Personnel (office personnel) and the Grand Rapids Association of Childcare Workers, Employment Training Specialists, Non-Certified Teachers.
Union officials say that they are pleased with both the proposed tentative contract and the process used to reach agreement.
“We can be proud of the bargaining process in Grand Rapids because it is both open and fair,“ said Alex Chess, GREA president. “Everyone at the table was aware that the district is facing increased costs during a tough economy. Even so, this agreement honored the needs of our employees who work so hard on behalf of our students and community.”
Union representatives will present details of the tentative agreement to their membership on May 24. A ratification vote will take place June 21. The Grand Rapids Board of Education is expected to vote on the new contract before July 1.