MARQUETTE - Vacation time, healthcare benefits, salary and wages, even turkeys doled out on holidays - these are things most high school students are not spending a ton of time thinking about.
But at least 48 teenagers from Alger and Marquette counties were discussing those issues and more during the annual collective bargaining workshop held at the Marquette-Alger Regional Education Services Agency in Marquette.
The event has been hosted for the past 10 years in conjunction with the Upper Peninsula Labor Management Council.
Laure Katers Reilly, an attorney working in Marquette, discusses a contract with her team during this year’s collective bargaining workshop. (Photo courtesy of Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Services Agency)
Students who took part in the day-long workshop were separated into labor and management and negotiated a final contract during several sessions.
Sandy Meyskens, education consultant for MARESA, said the goal of the workshop was to "develop student understanding and familiarization with the collective bargaining process."
"It's a soft skill that all students will be able to carry through, not only now in school, but in their future," Meyskens said. "And I'm sure that most of them will be in a situation where they're going to bargain."
The students are given mentors to help them through the process, people who have professional experience with collective bargaining.
"There were six professionals from the community that helped with this, so every student group had a mentor," Meyskens said.
Those professionals included representatives from the Marquette Board of Light and Power and the Michigan Education Association, among others.
Meyskens said part of the workshop's success is that students are able to become involved in the process, rather than just reading about it.
"Hands-on is always better," Meyskens said. "It's just real-world."
Seniors who participated in the workshop were also eligible to apply for a scholarship through the U.P. Labor Management Council.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.