By Tom Tolen /

A mediation session has been scheduled for Monday between the Brighton Education Association, a union which represents about 325 Brighton teachers, and the Board of Education bargaining team.

The session is set between the hours of 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. and precedes a 5:30 p.m. Board of Education meeting to discuss and take action on two Level III grievances by the BEA. Present at the mediation session — to hopefully break the stalemate — will be state-appointed mediator Stan Dobry. BEA President Barry Goode tells WHMI that the grievances pertain to additional duties the teachers are being required to perform in regard to the coronavirus pandemic — something that, he says, has not been negotiated and is not part of the contract. The regular board meeting will follow at 7 p.m. All three meetings will be online only via ZOOM, and will take place at the Brighton Education and Community Center (BECC) at the intersection of Church and East Main streets. The public will be able to access the meetings by going to the district's website and following the prompts.

On the agenda at the 5:30 p.m. grievance hearing is appointment of a hearing examiner to hear the case and, hopefully, come to a resolution that will be agreed to by both parties. According to the meeting packet, "A third-party hearing officer will allow the grievance hearings to proceed in an orderly manner and prepare the District for representation at an arbitration if necessary.” That appointment will be followed by separate hearings for the level III grievances.

The two sides have been involved in infrequent negotiations for the last few months, with no progress in sight. At last report, the school district was demanding teachers take a 5.8% pay cut. Although the district has reportedly moderated its stance somewhat since that time, they still have not come to agreement. The board’s current offer to the BEA has not been revealed. Last year, the teachers received a 2.3% pay raise, when combined with completion of a professional development course.

The approximately 325 teachers are in the second year of a three-year contract, which has a salary reopener each year. Goode has stated that the district can well afford a salary increase, saying it has savings in the $9 million range — more than most districts in Michigan. Goode told WHMI at the time that the fund balance, plus other funding, has “put the Brighton School District in the best financial position it has been in 25 years.”

Impasse occurred on Sept. 30th, when union representatives walked out of a bargaining meeting with the board negotiating team. Goode said then that it had become apparent to him no progress was being made toward agreement on the salary reopener issue. The union president said further that the board had given the district’s bargaining team no “wiggle room". But his hope now is that the scenario has changed. He says, “Hopefully, the board will give them more leeway (at Monday’s mediation session).”