MEA & AFT MICHIGAN - NEWS RELEASE
LANSING — School employees from the American Federation of Teachers Michigan and the Michigan Education Association picketed outside Governor Rick Snyder’s office today, demanding that he stop wasting taxpayer money appealing court rulings that have found school employees are owed $550 million due to an unconstitutional law that took money from their paychecks.
“Michigan school employees like myself feel deeply disrespected by Gov. Snyder, and his efforts to deny school employees their hard-earned paychecks are a complete waste of taxpayer money,” said Reed Bretz, who is a high school teacher with Kenowa Hills High School outside of Grand Rapids and a member of the MEA.
Both a trial court and the Michigan Court of Appeals have struck down Public Act 75 of 2010 as unconstitutional. PA 75 mandated that all school employees contribute 3 percent of their salary through an involuntary payroll deduction to fund retiree health care — a benefit that they were not guaranteed to receive. The law was in place from 2010 to 2012, and more than $550 million was taken from 200,000 school employees during that time. The money is currently being held in an interest-bearing escrow account pending an outcome to the case, which has been appealed by the state three times already.
“I’m angry that Governor Snyder is standing between us and our hard-earned money,” said Patti McCoin, who is a middle school teacher at Clifford Academy in Detroit and a member of AFT Michigan. “We deserve better. We deserve respect and support from elected leaders like Rick Snyder. But instead, he continues adding to his long line of attacks on public school employees from his perch here in Lansing.”
July 19 is Snyder’s deadline to appeal the case to the Michigan Supreme Court, and he has stated publicly that he plans to do so. Attorney General Bill Schuette has declined to provide legal counsel if Snyder appeals.
“As a retiree on a fixed income, the 3 percent of my paychecks that was stolen from me is very important to my husband and I. Governor Snyder has treated school employees as political punching bags, and I urge him to give school employees our fair pay without delay,” said Cheryl Farver, who is a recently-retired social worker from Shiawassee RESA and a member of the MEA.
Last month, MEA and AFT Michigan delivered more than 33,000 petition signatures to the offices of Snyder and Schuette, urging them not to appeal the June 7 appeals court ruling
NEA President Lily Eskelsent Garcia speaks at the NEARA in Washington DC
In her keynote address to the 2016 NEA Representative Assembly, NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia warned that the nation, despite the tremendous progress of the past eight years, could surrender to fear and demagoguery this election year - unless educators work for justice and stand up and be counted.
Read more and see video from Eskelsen Garcia's remarks.
Harmful DPS Restructuring Plan Passes Senate, Goes to Snyder
Gov. Rick Snyder says he's set to sign legislation allowing Detroit schoolchildren to be taught by uncertified teachers - no high school diploma, no college degree, no training required - as part of a DPS restructuring plan that passed the Senate Wednesday night with only Republican support.
Detroit lawmakers were denied the right to speak about the legislation on the House floor by Republican leaders who have spent the last several days cobbling together the bare minimum of votes to move the package to Snyder's desk.
Even with the Flint water crisis still looming, Snyder said he would sign the package into law despite its lack of support from Detroit parents, community leaders, and educators. In echoes from the Flint water scandal, some are asking critical questions of the DPS plan: If legislators would not allow this to happen in their home districts, why is it acceptable for Detroit?
"This is a cowardly act," Sen. Morris Hood III (D-Detroit) said of the plan.
In addition to allowing uncertified teachers, the plan passed by both chambers fails to include a Detroit Education Commission to oversee the siting of new charter and traditional schools in the city. The DEC had been sought by a broad coalition of policymakers working on the issue to bring under control the "Wild West" atmosphere of for-profit charter schools operating with little oversight or accountability
Flint Supplies Drive Continues Through MEA UniServ Offices
You can help alleviate the strain on Flint teachers by donating the school supplies so badly needed to help kids who've been affected by the unsafe drinking water scandal. MEA members interested in helping are asked to conduct supply drives and deliver donations to local UniServ offices
as soon as possible. Items needed include: pens, pencils, colored pencils, markers, paper, binders, wipes, hand sanitizer, glue sticks, crayons, art supplies, PE equipment (balls, jump ropes, etc.), books, stickers, sticky notes, and more. Tax-deductible contribution can also be made. Make your check payable to the MEA Classroom Support Fund, with "Flint" in the memo line. Mail checks to MEA Classroom Support Fund, Attn: Rick Trainor, 1216 Kendale Blvd., P.O. Box 2573, East Lansing, MI 48826.