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September 01, 2005 - Image 36

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2005-09-01

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We're Celebrating
Our Newly Opened
Wixom Branch Office.


Bi e l itlet

School Days

Hillel teachers agree to individual contracts;
union representation ends.

Associate Editor



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illel Day School of
Metropolitan Detroit teach-
ers last week agreed to
accept the school board's offer of indi-
vidual contracts, thus ending a 40-year
union affiliation.
According to a statement from
Hillel Head of School Steve Freedman,
the agreement was conditional on
three issues the teachers said were crit-
• Their employment can only be ter-
minated for just cause.
• Any disciplinary disputes may ulti-
mately be determined by an impartial
• Teachers will form a committee
that will work closely with the admin-
istration on educational and other
matters of mutual concern.
As a result of the teachers' vote,
informational picketing before and
after school hours was halted
Wednesday, Aug. 24, and classes began
on schedule Monday, Aug. 29.
Hillel teachers union president
Robin Lash said Friday, Aug. 26, that
"just cause" and "arbitration" language
had been included in the "terms and
conditions of employment" manual
distributed to the teachers by the
administration last week. "But other
aspects of that manual offended teach-
ers," she said.
"They feel hurt by the process.
Although we have come to an agree-
ment, many teachers feel strongly
about the process the [Hillel] board
engaged in to dissolve the union.
"Many teachers feel hurt and are
trying to come to terms with how and
why this was done to Jewish teachers
at a Jewish day school."
The Hillel board broke off contract
negotiations with the teachers on
Sunday, Aug. 21, four days after the
Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that
Brother Rice High School in
Bloomfield Township, as a parochial
school, did not have to comply with a
ruling of the Michigan Employment
Relations Commission and allow its
teachers to vote on unionizing.
On Monday, Aug. 22, the Hillel

administration distributed its terms-
and-conditions manual to the teachers.
Michigan Federation of Teachers
President David Hecker said Aug. 26
that he respects the Hillel teachers'
decision, "but we don't feel it's the
right course." The MFT was the par-
ent union for the Hillel teachers.
Hecker said the Hillel union had
"an enforceable contract for 40 years"
and "people struggled long and hard
to obtain the benefits the Hillel teach-
ers now enjoy.
Lash said there are "aspects of the
terms-and-conditions manual that do
address the needs and concerns of the
teachers. 'Just cause' and 'arbitration'
were big concessions for the school.
Although many teachers may not rec-
ognize this, the [teachers'] negotiating
team does.
"The finer points," she said, "will be
discussed and hopefully worked out to
the management's and the teachers'
On Friday, the last day of teacher
preparations before school began,
Steve Freedman was relieved that the
issue had been resolved. "Everybody's
back to doing what we want to be
doing," he said. "Emotions are lighter.
People are smiling.
"The board and the administration
stand 100 percent behind the faculty,"
he said. "We will continue to work to
keep our teachers among the highest
paid independent school faculty."
Hillel, he said, has 596 students
enrolled in kindergarten through 8th
grade. "That's down slightly from last
year, but up substantially from [the
575] we projected."
Freedman said Hillel had to add a
third kindergarten class and a fourth
1st grade class because of the enroll-
ment, and construction started this
summer on a new gymnasium and
theater that are being paid for by
On the other side, Robin Lash said,
"We don't have an official union" any-
more. "Only time will tell how this
will work ...
"There is a vulnerability that the
teachers feel. But I hope that disap-
pears over time and the administration
promises become a reality." Li


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