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A Better Partnership
June 11, 2014

COA holds that statute prohibits public employers from providing any type of wage increase without a collective bargaining agreement

In Bedford Public Schools v. Bedford Education Association, a teachers' union argued that a school board had improperly refused to increase certain teachers wages in accordance with completed graduate education - also known as a "lane change" increase.  At issue was a Michigan statute that prohibited public employers from making wage increases without a collective bargaining agreement, and in this case the relevant CBA had expired.  That statute specifically stated that the prohibition "includes increases that would result from wage step increases."  The union argued that by specifically extending the prohibition to one type of wage increase - step increases, the Legislature must have allowed other types of increases, such as "lane change" increases to continue.  The Court of Appeals disagreed, finding the statute's clear and unambiguous language prohibited any wage increases, including lane change increases.  The Court noted that the "step increase" clause was merely an illustrative example.  The Court also found that this interpretation of the statute was constitutional as it did not deprive any teachers of any vested rights, as the teachers simply had an expectation that the prior law that allowed such increases would continue.   

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