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      Unfair labor practice dispute heats up for Marquette school district

      A disagreement within the Marquette Area Public Schools may have to be settled by the state.

      Marquette's school superintendent claims an agreement with the Michigan Education Association's 2013- 2014 school contracts was settled in September. The union to protect MEA unit two workers disagrees, so they fired back with a lawsuit against the district.

      The frustration comes from the teacher aides, secretaries and other staff members within the school district. The MEA union is filing an unfair labor practice suit against the district to get their yearly pay increase, which is based on full years of continuous service.

      "If there was an issue, it seems like we would have brought that to the forefront back in September and now, six months later, we were pretty shocked to find out that the Uniserve director at the MEA had filed an unfair labor practice against the district," said Bill Saunders, MAPS superintendent.

      The director for the MEA disagrees, stating the issue was brought to the superintendent's attention in October. When he was finally able to read over the contracts, he realized that the workers would not be paid a step increase.

      "I told him, there's nothing that shows that the union agreed that they would not get their step increase," said Stu Skauge, Uniserve Director.

      On Monday night MAPS also filed an unfair labor practice against the MEA, claiming rejection of a valid contract. Both parties hope to reach a settlement before the issue goes to a hearing with the state.

      Saunders says the roles of those staff members are vital within the district.

      "Teachers rely heavily on them. Our instructional program aides rely heavily on them. We as administrators rely heavily on those secretaries," Saunders added. "We value every day the work that they do."

      Skauge says the superintendent needs to make things right.