Nearly a month into the school year, teachers in more than a dozen Michigan districts are working without contracts as negotiations bog down over wages and other issues.
After years of pay and benefit concessions, teachers are clamoring for raises, while districts say they need to hold the line on costs because of flat or declining enrollment and revenue.
Roland Zullo, an assistant research scientist at the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations, sees another factor that’s slowing negotiations: the right-to-work law.
Zullo said some of its provisions can sap time and resources that locals could otherwise devote to contract talks. For instance, when a contract expires, districts can no longer deduct union dues from paychecks on behalf of a local.
“Thus, a union without a contract must develop an alternative method for collecting dues,” he said. “It is quite possible that by crippling the ability for these organizations to fund their activities, unions do not have the resources to effectively complete the contract process.”’