Hundreds of West Bloomfield teachers have taken their contract stalemate to the picket line, protesting pay cuts proposed by the district aimed at erasing a $1.7 million budget deficit.
Teachers conducted an informational picket before Monday night’s school board meeting. They say it’s the first time in 30 years they’ve hit the picket line. Union members were not allowed to comment during the meeting on the ongoing negotiations.
The district has asked teachers who have been without a contract since August to take a 10 percent pay cut. The district would then freeze pay at that lower level.
West Bloomfield Education Association president Kim Pilarski says the union has proposed cuts worth $2.8 million and said despite the contract dispute, teachers will still be in the classroom teaching students.
“Because we’re teachers, we will give the same service we’ve always given in the classroom from the time we go to school to the time we leave school, we’ll have the same service, they’ll get the same outstanding information and same training and same experience they’ve always gotten,” Pilarski told WWJ’s Mike Campbell.
Rick Arnett, West Bloomfield Schools Superintendent of Human Resources and Labor Relations, says he’s confident a deal will be reached. But Arnett says if the district operates “as is” this year, $1.4-million will be added to the district’s deficit, putting the district over $3-million in the hole.
Talks resume Oct. 19.
© MMX WWJ Radio, All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to his report.