Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The End of MESSA?

Here is the latest news from Lansing:

The Legislative Commission on Governmental Efficiency continues to focus on health care benefits of public employees, particularly employees of public schools. Created by statute to examine ways to achieve efficiency in government, the commission has obsessed with finding ways to cut benefits and thereby reduce the compensation of school employees through the creating of a single, statewide, government run health care plan for all public employees, including school employees.

This is merely a revisit of SB 55 and SB 56 from a few years ago, and ignores the findings of a private study commissioned by the Senate and conducted by the Hayes Group that there are not significant administrative efficiencies to be achieved by dismantling the health care system that is currently in place for public school employees.

While the Governmental Efficiency Commission has not issued any public pronouncements in recent months, there continues to be considerable chatter by Lansing insiders to the effect that it is ready to issue a recommendation to force all school employees into a single state run plan. Last week the blog “Center for Michigan” posted an article claiming that the Commission is pursuing efficiency by cutting $300 million for community colleges from the State general fund general purpose (GF/GP) budget and replace it with $300 million from funds dedicated to the K-12 school aid fund (SAF). The $300 million hole in the SAF budget would be made up through an early retirement buy out and the creation of a single, state run health insurance plan for school employees.

Leaders from both parties and both legislative chambers seem to be buying into this flawed line of reasoning. Contact your representative and senator and urge them to oppose any state run health insurance plan for school employees. It was a bad idea four years ago and it still is a bad idea.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Another Attack Against Collective Bargaining

The Legislature is considering an important issue to your health insurance coverage and family’s well being. A government commission in Lansing is considering a recommendation to eliminate your choice and your control of your health care benefits. The recommendation would eliminate collective bargaining and replace your current health plan with coverage controlled by state government. A state-run plan could limit your choice of doctors, greatly, increase your co-payments and out-of-pocket costs, and cut your benefits at any time. Here's the actual draft recommendation:

“Require all active school employees to be placed in a State-run health care plan. Eliminate all local bargaining on health care. Local savings would depend on the cost of the State-run program compared to the current program. There would be State costs in implementing and operating the plan.”

The government commission is expected to finalize its recommendations this month. This remains a very fluid situation, and we will try to keep you updated and will let you know when and if we need your active efforts and support with legislators.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Thanks for ALL You Do

It’s hard to believe this school year will be ending soon. As for those newer Association leaders, whether you are a first-time Association representative for your department or building, a new Association officer, grievance chair, or whatever… THANK YOU for taking on the responsibility of serving your Association.

It’s never too soon to plan for the future. Having knowledge and skills in how to best do your job is always in everyone’s best interests. Take some time now to plan on attending some of the important workshops and conferences MEA hosts each year. Attending will help you become a better employee and a better Association leader.

Here are the upcoming conferences and workshops:

For members:

*July 30-31 - Social Justice Institute
*September/October - Look for Survival Workshops for Probationary Teachers
*Early December - Instruction and Professional Development Conference (3 days)

For leaders:

*July 28-30 - Summer Leadership Conference
*October/November - Election Training
*February - Bargaining/Political Action/PR Conference
*March - ESP Statewide Conference
*June - Labor Relations Practicum

Please contact your UniServ Director or mea.org for more information.