Nearly every aspect of a teacher’s job falls under the rules of a union contract. The following is a synopsis of just one of those agreements in Michigan. It comes from Fruitport Community Schools near Muskegon, which employs 224 teachers and enrolls 3,200 students. Of its $32 million operating budget (excluding capital expenditures and debt services), 83 percent goes to pay employee compensation.

Teacher salaries are determined by a single salary schedule that creates annual automatic raises based solely an employee’s years of experience and graduate degrees. In Fruitport, these automatic annual pay raises are usually 3 to 4 percent. In addition to these “step” increases, the entire salary schedule grows by 2 percent each year. Teachers also get “longevity payments” after 15, 20, 25 and 30 years of employment. These one-time payments range from $1,852 to $9,262, depending on highest earned degree. Based on these formulas, the vast majority of teachers' base salary is between $50,015 and $64,093.

Fruitport teachers contribute nothing to the cost of their health insurance. These premiums cost the district $13,869 per employee, while the average health insurance family premium in Michigan is $11,300. Plus, teachers choosing not to enroll in the district’s medical plan get a “cash-in-lieu” payment on top of dental, vision, long-term disability and life insurance. 

The union contract also includes bonus pay for additional duties. Teachers performing recess duty get $30 per hour, and summer school classes pay $28.42 per hour. Teachers can also earn more by participating in extracurricular activities, like coaching, band, drama, yearbook, debate and many others. These extra duties pay anywhere between $900 and $9,000 annually. 

Teachers are also rewarded for not using their leave days. They get 13 leave days per year, 3 of which may be used for personal business. Teachers may accumulate up to 250 leave days, and at the end of each year, they can cash in a maximum of 10 days at $50 per day. Upon ending their employment with the district, teachers are paid $60 per accumulated leave day. 

Finally, the contract covers the working conditions as well, like the required number of working hours per year and limitations on class sizes. Teachers are required to be at school for a total of 183 days or 1,373 hours per year. The national average for all professions is 1,792 hours. 

A fully detailed analysis can be found here.

The Michigan Education Association says members may leave only in the month of August. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has set up www.AugustOptOut.org to help inform MEA members of their rights.


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