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Michigan teachers want a new contract now

One of the fastest growing areas of law is contract negotiations and contract disputes. Whether it be employment contracts or business contracts, there is a lot of litigation going on regarding contractual issues. Legally contracts can be written or oral, although oral contracts are a little bit more difficult to uphold in court. For a contract to be legally enforceable, there must be an offer, acceptance of that offer and mutual consideration, meaning some type of payment or promise to pay once the services have been rendered. This effectuates a proper contract. When there is a contract dispute, one of the abovementioned things is askew.

In Portage, Michigan there is currently a contract dispute between the Teacher's Union, PEA and the Board of Education for Portage Public Schools. The teachers are quite upset that the dispute has been going on for so long and that the school board will not compensate them as they feel they deserve. The teachers have not had a raise in quite some time and are understandably upset about the whole situation. Because the parties were not able to come to an agreed upon contract, the matter will go to mediation for possible resolution.

In contract negotiations, like the one above, often times the sides involved in the dispute are fighting over money. When dealing with contract negotiations or employment contracts in general, it would behoove the parties to come to some type of agreement prior to the courts getting involved. Mediation is usually the first step after the parties are deadlocked. The mediation process is an informal proceeding that utilizes a neutral third party to try and get the parties to come to an agreement. If mediation doesn't work, sometimes arbitration is an option. Arbitration, which is usually binding, is more legal in nature and an arbitrator makes the final decision following hearing both sides of the dispute.

There are various avenues that are employed to resolve contract disputes.

Source: The Kalamazoo Gazette, "Portage teachers crowd into school board meeting to call for contract settlement," Tom Haroldson, October 14, 2014

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