On Monday, Milwaukee Public Schools teachers and school psychologists received a letter from outgoing Superintendent Gregory Thornton notifying them that their March 28 paycheck would include a one percent bonus.
In a note that began with breezy weather chit chat, Thornton said, "I want to stop and take a moment to thank you for all your hard work on behalf of our students this school year.Â I am pleased to announce that you will be receiving a one-time non-base building payment equivalent to one percent of your salary."
Thornton reiterated his thanks and the gratitude of the Milwaukee Board of School Directors and signed off saying, "We will continue to seek out way to show our appreciation to you not only in terms of salary but other creative approaches."
One teacher, speaking on the condition of anonymity, quipped, "a going away present?" and added, "The cynic in me sees it as a payoff so we don't complain about the district's refusal to bargain salary this year."
An email sent to members this morning by Milwaukee Teachers Education Association echoed that sentiment, calling the bonus â€“ on which the district will spend about $3.6 million â€“ a union-busting tactic.
"For the third time in two years, MPS administration â€“ under the direction of the School Board â€“ has undermined the collective bargaining process and disrespected educators by unilaterally issuing members a one-time bonus rather than bargaining with your union," MTEA President Bob Peterson wrote in the statement. "Two bonuses have been issued for educational assistants and bookkeepers, and one for the teacher unit."
The release notes that despite Act 10's restrictions on collective bargaining, other southeastern Wisconsin school districts â€“ including Cudahy, Franklin, Racine, Brown Deer, St. Francis and Watertown â€“ have used collective bargaining to negotiate wage increases.
"The district's refusal to respect the bargaining process, and the lack of a clear path for career advancement, restricts our ability to attract and retain quality educators," said the MTEA statement.
"This is the same school board that gave a 3 percent bonus to Dr. Thornton recently. Does the board value those who leave more than the members of the MTEA who are committed to our schools and our students?"
MPS spokesman Tony Tagliavia confirmed the MTEA statement and that two bonuses were given to educational assistants and bookkeepers, but denied that there have been three bonuses in two years to teachers.
"The March 28 payment is the first for teachers," Tagliavia said. "Teachers were under contract last year and received a 3 percent base-building salary increase plus step and lane increases."
Tagliavia also balked at the suggested that the district has refused to meet with the union.
"In January alone, the district met three times with the MTEA," he said. "MPS and the MTEA have established a workgroup to investigate career advancement opportunities."
On Tuesday, School Board Director Meagan Holman told WITI-TV's Beverly Taylor, "There were lots of meetings (between MPS and MTEA). They bargained to impasse."
In a call to action, the union encouraged its members to contact school board members and insist that it sit at the table with the MTEA to "develop a compensation schedule that will meet the needs of educators and our district."
1 comment about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Bobby Tanzilo
Published July 31, 2015
Last week, I got a message from Paul Walter, a co-facilitator at the Slinger Authors' Camp, a youth program that's part of the Fox Valley Writing Project (which is, in turn, affiliated with the National Writing Project). The 17 kids in the program are suburban spelunking in their town.
Published July 30, 2015
There's no need to massage the statistics: men are hitting spas across the country - and right here in Milwaukee - in bigger numbers than ever before.
Published July 28, 2015
Some details of the plan for the new development in the trio of National Ace Hardware buildings on 4th and McKinley have emerged, right as plans for a new arena and entertainment district across the street have taken steps forward.
Published July 25, 2015
One of the Milwaukee area's most interesting parks is a bit off the beaten path, but it's worth making tracks to Lizard Mound County Park in Farmington, just north of West Bend in Washington County. A wooded path twists and turns through 28 Native American effigy mounds, including the one shaped like a huge lizard which gives the park its name.
Published July 24, 2015
Green Lake is a place of superlatives. Here are eight of the many reasons to fall in love with Green Lake, which is an easy 90-minute drive from Milwaukee.
Published July 24, 2015
What a long strange trip it was. While theaters like the Downer and Oriental have venerable histories as long-running cinema houses, consider, if you will, the the more varied history of the now-dilapidated State Theater, 2616 W. State St. Originally a movie theater, the State has served a number of purposes - rock venue, prudish dance hall and strip club - in its nearly 100-year history.
Published July 22, 2015
There were about 500 people on hand to watch U2 at The Palms on April 15, 1981. The show was part of the Irish band's first U.S. tour. Here's a look back...
Published July 21, 2015
Come with me to see the progress on the restoration of The Pabst Mansion's third floor and also peek into the basement and attic, and experience the view from the roof of this Milwaukee landmark.
Published July 17, 2015
Milwaukee neighborhoods were once awash in movie theaters, as hard as that may be to imagine these days when you can count the number of non-googleplex cinemas in the city limits on one hand. While many are lost, a few remain. At 3804 W. Vliet St. is a former longtime carpet store that's been closed the past few years. But, originally, the building was home to The Lyric Theater, which operated from 1917 to 1952.
Published July 14, 2015
In 2012, I toured the surviving Alexander Eschweiler-designed Agricultural College buildings on the County Grounds, when their roofs gaped open to the stars - and the elements - and weeds encircled their exteriors. Despite talk of tearing them down, and an ongoing battle to save them from demolition, four of the buildings survive, even as six new apartment buildings are rising around them.