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Center sues Kent County school districts for union agreements | News

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Center sues Kent County school districts for union agreements

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation announced a lawsuit today charging that nine Kent County school districts, the Kent Intermediate School District, and the Kent County Education Association, could save millions of dollars if they didn't have anti-privatization language in their collective bargaining agreements. The center maintains that Michigan law makes the inclusion of the language in the collective bargaining agreements illegal.

The individual districts named in the suit are Byron Center, Comstock Park, Godfrey Lee, Godwin Heights, Grandville, Kenowa Hills, Lowell, Northview and Rockford.

Mike Shibler, Superintendent of Rockford Schools says, "For the Mackinac Center to come out and be critical is disappointing." Shibler says the "no privatization" clause in the agreement is not legal, but unenforceable because Michigan law supersedes the contract. He says the current bargaining agreement is saving his district money. "When I can save money by having a co-pay for health insurance and freezing salaries, i'm going to do it."

The Mackinac Center says that the districts would save $6.9 million in the first year, if they could privatize their food, custodial, and transportation services.  The Center's Patrick Wright says, "It is our goal to have these provisions stricken from the collective bargaining agreements and to prevent them from going into future agreements." 

If the wording is taken out of the contract, that doesn't mean a district has to privatize. Rockford says it saves more money by running its own services.