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Union concessions save 17 teacher jobs

By   /   April 14, 2011  /   No Comments

By Wisconsin Reporter
The Wausau Daily Herald says the Merrill School Board is recalling 17 teachers from layoffs after winning financial concessions from the district’s unions.

The move saves the district about $1.3 million, the newspaper reported.

Chris Schrimpf, a spokesman for Gov. Scott Walker, said Thursday that the governor sees the actions by the Merrill School Board “as a good thing.”

“It is not any surprise that these union concessions are coming after the budget repair bill was passed (by the General Assembly) and signed by the governor,” Schrimpf said in a telephone interview.

Wausau Daily Herald Writer Keith Uhlig reported that the board cut $1.1 million from its budget Wednesday while retaining a program to limit class sizes.

“I’m happy to see that we could do this,” the Daily Herald quotes board member Lin Kautza as saying.

The newspaper reported that four teachers remain on the layoff list, but those positions already were slated to be eliminated because they were funded by short-term federal recovery act money.

The newspaper reported in its March 15 edition that Merrill Area Public Schools and three unions reached agreement on one-year contract extensions.

Union employees in the district agreed to the wage freeze and to contribute to their retirement plans and increase their share of health care coverage costs, the newspaper reported. Starting salaries for new teachers will drop to $34,652, from $40,484.

The contract is enforced through June 2012, according to the newspaper.

Walker’s legislation to limit all public employee union collective bargaining to issues of wages, and to limit wage increases to the rate of inflation, is stalled in the courts. He also is seeking to have public union employees contribute to their pension plan and health care plan costs.