Milwaukee teachers’ decision to put their own interests ahead of student needs proves EAG wrong

We thought union obstruction was the product of overbearing union bosses 

     MILWAUKEE – We’ve said it a thousand times: It is not teachers themselves who refuse to accept concessions to help their students, it’s the union bosses who run the show that are so stubborn.
     This week, 2,296 members of the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association proved us wrong when they selfishly rejected a proposal that would have saved teaching positions by essentially canceling most of their negotiated raise for the 2012-13 school year.
     Of the MTEA’s 3,931 members, only 1,635 were willing to sacrifice for their students, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
     “We had hoped to jump-start the bigger campaign with this collective bargaining contribution,” MTEA President Bob Peterson told the newspaper.
     The vote puts in jeopardy financial contributions school and union officials had hoped to secure from community leaders as part of the MPS Children’s Week campaign to maintain teaching positions amid continuing budget problems. The greedy teachers who voted against the proposal also complicated their district’s efforts to fulfill an unexpected $10 million payment to the city for employee pensions.
     We believe the vote total is a clear sign that most MPS educators are uninterested in helping to resolve the district’s financial troubles. It sends the message that teachers in Milwaukee subscribe to a me-first mentality, despite a $62,800 average annual salary – which is nearly twice the median household income in Milwaukee.
     MTEA members owe their community an explanation. The city’s residents deserve to know how the district is currently spending their tax dollars.
     That’s why EAG is compiling a report on the cost of collective bargaining in Milwaukee Public Schools. We’ve reviewed the MTEA contract in detail and will soon release a no-nonsense report on the amount district officials are forced to spend on various union perks contained in the document.
     We found automatic raises, unused sick day bonuses, payments for bus duty, and numerous other provisions that are both expensive and unnecessary, especially considering MTEA members’ uncooperative attitude.
     In June 2013, the MTEA contract will expire, and district officials will be free to use the tools provided by Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10 reforms to cut the fat. They will finally be able to put the interests of students ahead of the district’s self-serving teachers.
     And we suspect that the public will stand behind them, even when their teachers don’t.
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