ALPENA - The Alpena Education Association, along with the Michigan and National Education Associations, has filed for an injunction in 26th Circuit Court against Alpena Public Schools and its board of education on behalf of teachers.
"The district has an obligation to maintain a status quo until the end of the 60 calendar days after the fact finding," Uniserv Director Deb Larson said. "The district has maintained it would be a 10 percent wage cut, and now they have retroactively increased that to 16.71 percent. The issue with that is they are taking away wages that have already been earned, and not 10 percent going forward. We went to court to challenge the district's authority to do that."
Judge Michael Mack recused himself from the case, and therefore the AEA is waiting for news from the firm handling its case as to which court it will be held in, and when it will take place.
"Our intent would be to have this suit heard first so the district can't take salary that the teachers have already earned away," Larson said. "Teachers are paid deferred compensation in the summer months, and some of that money is for work that has already been done. Taking that away is an issue."
The suit requests the court revoke the school board's wage reduction, and a permanent injunction be granted to avoid the wage cut.
"Our attorneys had to find the best legal position to take because of the conflict of interest, so we sought an injunction instead of a temporary restraining order," Larson said. "The local unit is a subdivision of the Michigan Education Association, and the National Education Association, which is the national affiliate. All three of them work together to provide representation for the local units of the MEA."
The firm representing the teachers is White, Schieder, Young & Chiodini of Lansing, which represents the MEA. Teachers also are in the process of filing claims that the change is a violation of the Wage & Hour Program of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
"We would prefer to resolve this issue between us and the district," Larson said. "But because they refuse to move, we have to take legal action."
Recently, the AEA filed an unfair labor practice charge against APS, which challenges that the district has not been bargaining in good faith with the union. Larson said the district has kept one position during bargaining, and the union has provided multiple alternatives to the districts 10 percent wage reduction. The unfair labor practice hearing will be held in Lansing in front of the Michigan Employment Relations Commission on June 25-26.