Still stalled

Published 8:17 pm Tuesday, July 20, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- After 10 negotiation sessions and three sessions with the state mediator, the Niles Board of Education and the Niles District Education Association still cannot come to a contract agreement.
But, following a closed session after Monday's board meeting, the board took action it hopes will help to move the negotiation process along.
The board passed a motion to authorize the district's attorney to file a petition for fact finding with the Michigan Employment Relations Council.
Teachers in the district worked without a contract last year and the fact finding request is intended to help both parties to settle a contract for the 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 school years.
The fact finding request will bring in an independent third party to gather evidence and statements from both sides and then give a non-binding recommendation.
According to a press release from the district, the major issues that remain unresolved are salary increases and teacher contributions to the cost of health insurance.
Currently, Niles teachers do not contribute any money towards insurance and the district is asking them to pay for part of the increase in the cost of their health insurance package.
The district's proposals include: an additional $636,000 for salary and insurance or the equivalent of a 5 percent raise for the 2003-2004 school year and an additional $745,000 in salary, retirement, and insurance costs or the equivalent of a 5.86 percent raise for the 2004-2005 school year.
The district has also agreed to reduce the total number of teacher work days.