A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Many school boards around the state are attempting to renegotiate contracts with their local teachers unions to contain costs. Here's a brief recap of some of the new contracts agreed to this last month.

Grand Haven: A new two-year contract grants teachers net across-the-board salary increases of 1.75 percent this year and next. The district changed health insurance plans, moving from "SuperCare I" — the most expensive plan sold by the MEA union's MESSA arm — to a slightly less generous Choices II. Teachers will have to pay $10 for brand-name prescriptions, but still won't be required to contribute anything toward the cost of health insurance premiums. More information can be found here.

Swartz Creek: The board and union agreed to a two-year contract that includes a 1 percent "off-schedule" pay increase this year and a 1 percent across-the-board raise next year. The district switched health insurance plans, moving from one purchased directly from Blue Cross/Blue Shield to one administered by the union's MESSA arm. For the first time, teachers will contribute to the cost of health insurance premiums. The district capped how much it would pay for health insurance premiums at $16,800 per year, about 62 percent more than the average Michigan employer. More information can be found here.

Westwood Heights: After agreeing earlier in the year to change health insurance plans from MESSA to a competitor (HealthPlus) — a move that could save the district between 3 and 10 percent on health benefit costs — teachers agreed to a new contract that included 2 percent across-the-board pay raises. More information can be found here.

East Lansing: Teachers agreed to a two-year contract that for the first time requires them to pay part of the cost of their health insurance benefits. This year they'll pay 4.5 percent to the premium costs, and 5.5 percent next year. The average employee contribution (public and private) is about 20 percent in Michigan. The district surrendered its right to be the policyholder of its own health insurance plan and switched from Physicians Health Plan to MESSA. Teachers will receive a 0.5 percent across-the-board pay increase in addition to the regular individual "step" increases built in to the pay schedule. More information can be found here.

Royal Oak: A new three-year teacher contract (retroactive for last year) is in place for teachers. After receiving 1.75 percent across-the-board salary bumps for the last couple years, teachers agreed to no across-the-board increases. "Step" increases will still be granted. Teachers will continue to contribute nothing to the cost of the health insurance premiums, but did agree to a new plan that requires higher annual deductibles: $300 for an individual plan and $600 for a family plan. Office visits will now cost teachers $20, and prescription drugs will cost them between $2 and $40. More information can be found here.

Northern Michigan University economist Hugo Eyzaguirre discusses how raising the minimum wage will hurt emerging local economies. See more at "Raising the Minimum Wage, Lowering Opportunity."


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