Niles school secretaries take pay cutPublished 11:39am Thursday, January 26, 2012
Secretaries at Niles Community Schools are taking a 2.5 percent pay cut as part of a new contract agreement with the district.
Supt. Richard Weigel estimates the new contract will save the district approximately $70,000 a year.
The secretaries’ union had been operating without a contract since June 2009.
“Not having a contract, our insurance went up, so we were paying more out of pocket for that during that time. That was probably one of the worst things,” said Tricia Bolin, president of the secretaries’ union. “Also, it was looming over our heads that this had to get done.”
The new contract was ratified by the secretaries’ union Jan. 18 and approved by the school board Monday.
As part of the deal, secretaries received a signing bonus and inclusion in a 2 percent profit/loss sharing program. They are also using the same insurance plan as the district’s administrators.
Bolin and other office personnel met with Weigel in November to discuss the contract situation. By the end of the meeting, both sides were confident an agreement would be reached.
At Bolin’s request, the meeting was held without the presence of a negotiator from the Michigan Education Association.
“The key to our work together and quick ratification of the contract was to come together without outside interference and talk to each other without the normal competitive bargaining tactics,” Weigel said.
Weigel added he appreciated the willingness of the secretaries’ union to do their part in helping solve the school district’s looming financial problems. According to Weigel, the district is projected to go into deficit by the 2013-14 school year if no changes are made.
“We value and respect all of our employees and the secretaries very clearly understood and still understand the need for shared sacrifice,” he said.
Administrators recently agreed to take an 8 percent reduction in salary and move to another insurance in order to help with the district’s financial situation.
The district has been trying to settle contract negotiations with the teachers’ union for more than a year. The teachers’ union’s contract expired June 30.
Teachers’ union president Katherine Elsner has said the district is asking teachers to take an 8 percent pay cut.