WARREN (WWJ) – Just weeks before the state’s new right-to-work law is set to take effect, the Warren Consolidated Board of Education unanimously approved an extended labor contract for its employees.

The new agreement, which was ratified Wednesday, will take effect August 24, 2013 and run through August 29, 2021 for approximately 850 classroom teachers and certified staff members.

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“This contract extension is a very important milestone for both the school district and the Warren Education Association because it gives the school district a significant amount of stability to manage its finances locally for an extended period of time,” Robert Livernois, Warren Consolidated Superintendent, said in a statement. “Being able to control budgets and finances locally is critical in these times of reduced state funding for public education.”

Livernois said the language in the contract extension allows the administration and teachers to collaboratively explore new programs, such as year round schools and an expansion of the Macomb Mathematics Science Technology Center concept to middle and elementary schools.

Livernois emphasized that the agreement follows the pattern set by many private and public sector organizations which are also attempting to manage their financial future for the long-term.

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Some Republican lawmakers with the power of the purse, however, are threatening to limit the district’s state aid and call them into the Capitol for an explanation, saying they only approved the contract to skirt the new right-to-work law.

The way the law works, unionized workers can no longer be forced to pay union dues or fees after the expiration of any collective bargaining agreement in place on March 28. Until then, employers and unions are free to negotiate contract extensions to delay the impact of right to work.

Democrats counter that public employers were already negotiating contracts because their old contracts had expired before Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed the right-to-work law in December.

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