Despite opposition, School Board approves new teachers contract

May 24, 2011

Menomonee Falls - After more than four hours and amid ferocious opposition, the Menomonee Falls School District unanimously voted to approve a two-year contract with its teacher union Monday night.

The vote was met with the familiar, "shame" jeers which have permeated seemingly every step of the lawmaking process since Gov. Scott Walker rolled out his budget plans for next year.

A new deal will be put in place once the old contract ends June 30 and will include contributions to retirement and health insurance payments, saving the district more than $5 million over the course of the contract.

Union members will have to pay 5.8 percent toward the Wisconsin Retirement System, and either 8 percent or more than 15 percent depending on the health care package. The carrier will also be moved from the Wisconsin Education Association plan to a Humana plan which will feature increases in deductibles as well.

Falls will have the option to make major changes to the plan after the first year.

Another major savings comes from OPEB - other post-employment benefits - where the district will move from 10 years of benefits to five years, and will have retired teachers paying the same cost for health care as if they were still employed.

Step increases were also eliminated in this contract, although the union did negotiate a raise at the Consumer Price Index level, the same index that would be used under the confines of the budget repair bill.

If the courts rule that bill was law when Walker signed it, the law becomes retro-active to that date and this contract becomes void. If the law isn't enacted until after tonight, this contract will be good for the duration of the agreement.

Community members spoke before the board voted and spoke nearly 5-to-1 against the ratification of new contracts, urging the board to wait. After vacillating between voting Monday or delaying a vote, board members finally voted around 11 p.m. in favor of the bill shortly after each board member was given the opportunity to address the crowd of more than 100 people.

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