UPDATE: Teachers union to ask MMSD Tue. to begin negotiations - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Teachers union to ask MMSD Tue. to begin negotiations

Posted:

MADISON (WKOW) -- The head of a teachers union will ask the Madison Metropolitan School District on Tuesday to begin negotiations on a new contract, but it's a contract that might never take effect.

Act 10-- Governor Scott Walker's first piece of legislation after taking office in 2011-- took away the teachers' right to negotiate contracts, but a ruling last Friday by Dane County Judge Juan Colas restored that right for city, county and school employees. Now, the question is for how long, as Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's office has announced the state plans to ask for a stay in the case on Tuesday, while filing an appeal.

Teachers and union representatives were at the Doyle Administration Building Monday night, as the MMSD Board of Education met to discuss how to move forward following the ruling that would restore collective bargaining. Several spoke about the need to be prepared for possible negotiations now, to avoid delay when discussion contracts.

The board's agenda included discussion of the handbook that was to take effect when current contracts end in June. Under Act 10, handbooks were meant to replace an employee contract, but now it could be irrelevant. If the ruling withstands appeal, collective bargaining is back on the table and the handbook's out.

Madison Teachers, Inc (MTI) will formally ask the district to begin negotiations on Tuesday. MTI executive director John Matthews says would put MMSD ahead of the curve.

"A friendly cooperative way of trying to resolve those issues, they'll have it way ahead of time for their own budgeting purposes and it should be a win-win for everybody," says Matthews.

Matthews will meet with union members to find out what they want on the table, but he expects it will be what was at issue in 2011-- wages, work conditions and benefits.

In the end, the district may have to plan for both a handbook and negotiations, and wait for further court action.

"Right now, it kind of feels like the sand is shifting out from under our feet again, and so I hope at the end of the day when we can really see how this all shifts out, we'll have a clear direction and it may be two paths that we have to follow," says Interim Superintendent Jane Belmore.

Belmore says she's worried this new discussion will get in the way of moving achievement gap plans forward. That's something she intends to keep as her main focus now.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Following a Dane County judge's ruling that parts of the state collective bargaining law are unconstitutional, the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Board of Education will meet to discuss what the decision could mean for the district.

The board's agenda for Monday night includes discussion on the district's employee handbook, which has replaced union contracts for teachers after Act 10 was passed in 2011. After Judge Juan Colas' ruling on Friday, which reinstates collective bargaining for city, county and school public employees, that handbook would be void.

Spokesperson Rachel Strauch-Nelson says the board will discuss moving forward at Monday's meeting, while waiting to see what the state will do regarding an appeal of Colas' decision.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's office has said the state will ask for a stay in the case on Tuesday. Van Hollen said Monday he has not decided whether to pursue that case directly with the state Supreme Court. He says not granting a stay of the order could create chaos, with unions attempting to negotiate new deals while the law is not in effect.

Meanwhile, MMSD's interim superintendent Jane Belmore released the following statement:

"At this point, we are gathering information and preparing for the Board to have a discussion at its meeting tonight. There are still a lot of unanswered questions, and while we deal with that uncertainty, what hasn't changed is that we still need to determine together how to go forward in the in the best interest of our employees and our district."
 
Tonight on 27 News at 10, Jennifer Kliese will talk about the board's discussion.
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