Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tell Lawmakers “Me Too!”

Tell lawmakers “Me too!” on 3-year limit on 3 percent retirement contribution
MEA calling on Legislature to match sunset provision granted to state employees last week.

Last week, the Legislature passed a retirement bill for state employees similar to what passed for school employees last spring. However, since then, lawmakers have heard your angry reaction about the additional 3 percent of salary going towards retiree health insurance, forcing them to think twice about the state employee bill. This prompted a compromise in last week’s state employee retirement package – a three-year limit on the 3 percent retirement health insurance contribution by state employees.

This week, lawmakers need to hear from school employees again, this time with a simple message – “Me too!”

In the interest of fairness and consistency, MEA is calling on the Legislature to amend school employees’ additional 3 percent retirement contribution to include the same three-year limit they included for state employees. If it was the right thing to do for state workers, then it’s the right thing to do for school employees and their families, many of whom are now struggling with total payments into the retirement system of between 7 and 12 percent!

Contact your state representative and senator today and urge them to take up this issue and do what is right for Michigan’s dedicated school employees and communities. You can find contact information for your lawmakers here.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Patrick Miles Campaign News

We have two very important meetings scheduled. Please publicize to all KCEA members:

October 4 5:00pm Education rally --Patrick Miles @ Grand Rapids Central High School Lyon/College NE

October 19, 2010, 7pm Public Forum at the Central Michigan University building. Meet a candidate for the 3rd Congressional race. Sponsored jointly by the KCEA and Grassroots.

Members are invited to participate and listen and meet Pat Miles, our endorsed 3rd district candidate.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Get Involved Now

The primary election is just 12 days away! To ensure that friends of public education win on August 3 and move on to November’s general election, we need to ensure MEA members get out and Vote!

Phone Banks

Are you interested in volunteering your time to make calls to members about MEA’s recommended candidates? You can sign now by going to to schedule a time to make calls or contact your local UniServ office to schedule a time to make calls during their scheduled phone banking time.

If you volunteer to make calls to fellow MEA members, you will be provided with names, phone numbers and a scripted message specific to MEA candidates, with emphasis on the voting for Virg Bernero in the Governor’s race.

If you would like to make calls to voters on behalf of the Bernero Campaign from your own home, please contact Steve Ross, Field Director, at, or call the Bernero campaign at 517.999.8696 or contact their Volunteer Coordinator at They will email a list of names and phone numbers to call along with a script and any other directions they may have.

Bernero Field Events for this Week (If you have questions regarding these events and activities, contact Steve Ross or Michael Berkowitz at their contact listed above.)

Wednesday, July 21st
Phone Bank at Lansing Campaign Headquarters
Volunteer Shifts: 10AM – Noon, Noon – 2PM, 4 – 6PM, 6 – 8PM

Thursday, July 22nd
Phone Bank at Lansing Campaign Headquarters
Volunteer Shifts: 10AM – Noon, Noon – 2PM, 4 – 6PM, 6 – 8PM

Battle Creek Canvass
Meet in Parking Lot G near the Soccer Field at Kellogg Community College, 450 North Avenue
Volunteer Shifts begin at 1PM
Carpools leave Lansing Campaign HQ at 11:45AM

Friday, July 23rd
Phone Bank at Lansing Campaign Headquarters
Volunteer Shifts: 10AM – Noon, Noon – 2PM, 4 – 6PM, 6 – 8PM

Ann Arbor Art Fair Canvass
Meet in the Kroger Parking Lot, 400 South Maple Street
Volunteer Shifts: Noon – 3PM, 3PM – 6PM, 6PM – 9PM
Carpools leave Lansing Campaign HQ at 10:30AM

Saturday, July 24th
Ann Arbor Canvass and Art Fair
Meet in the Kroger Parking Lot, 400 South Maple Street
Volunteer Shifts: Noon – 3PM, 3PM – 6PM

Flint Canvass
Meet at the Cherry / Kildee Campaign Headquarters located at 877 East 5th Avenue (5th Avenue and South Saginaw Street)
Volunteer Shifts begin at 10:00 a.m. on Mon/Wed. and 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. other days of the week.
Anthony Panneck is the Flint Organizer and can be reached at or 405.812.3417. They have 7 cell phones available for phone banking.

Pontiac Canvass
Meet at Washington Middle School at 710 Menominee
Volunteer shifts begin at noon

Southfield Canvass
Meet at Southfield – Lathrup High School, 19301 West 12 Mile Road
Volunteer Shifts begin at 1PM and 3:30PM

Sunday, July 25th
Muskegon Canvass
Meet in the parking lot of the Muskegon County South Campus Building, Corner of Apple Ave and Pine St
Volunteer shifts begin at 2PM and 4PM
Carpools leave Lansing Campaign HQ at 12:15PM

Monday, July 26th
Grand Rapids Canvass
Meet at Wilcox Park at 100 Youell SE (Robinson at Wilcox Park Drive SE)
Volunteer shifts begin at 1PM and 3:30PM

Friday, July 16, 2010

Kent County PAC Recommendations

The KCPAC has finished its Screening and Recommendation for the Aug. 3, 2010 primary. It recommends the following:

House 73 – no position on any candidates

House 77 – no position

House 86 – we recommend a favorable status for Frank Hammond (D) current board member at Kenowa Hills.

House 76 – Continuing recommendation for Roy Schmidt

House 75 – The GRPAC has not finished its S&R at this time.

Senate 29 – KCPAC no position. GRPAC has not finished its S&R – The meet next week July 21 for the senate and the House 75.

3rd Congressional (US) – the KCPAC/GRPAC is recommending to the MEA president that the NEA support Patrick Miles (D).

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Reprint from "MEA VOTES"

What does Virg Bernero think about outsourcing education jobs to private companies?

Gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero opposes the outsourcing of public school employees' jobs to private companies -- and he supports efforts to reform state law that prohibits collective bargaining over the issue.

Bernero, a Democrat who currently serves as mayor of Lansing, faces Rep. Andy Dillon in the Aug. 3 primary. Five Republicans will face off in the Republican primary on the same date.
MEA recommends Bernero for governor because of his strong support for public education and education employees.

MEA Votes recently asked Bernero questions about outsourcing. Here are his answers:

Q: Should public schools outsource the jobs of education employees to private companies?

A: No. As governor, I won't rely on gimmicks like outsourcing of school jobs to solve our budget woes. Support staff are as essential to our education system as teachers. They are part of our school's culture and help nurture a positive learning environment. We also need to be sure the people working with our kids have the proper training and background checks that assure our kids are safe when they are at school.

Q: Do you support legislation that would remove the prohibition against bargaining over privatization/outsourcing (or the impact of privatization/outsourcing) that is contained in PERA?

A: Yes. Privatization and outsourcing should be a subject of collective bargaining.

Q: Should school districts be required to collectively bargain with local unions the decision to outsource education jobs to private companies?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you have any experience with privatization?

A: As part of reorganizing Lansing city government to focus on core services, printing services were contracted to a union print shop because of the cost of maintaining an annex office and replacing aging printing machinery. No city employees lost their job as a result.

Q: Have you ever outsourced the work of public employees to a private company?

A: As described above, we have shifted some non-core services work from public employees to the private sector, but we have never laid off a single worker as a result. To counterbalance, we have also "insourced" work that was being done by private companies and is now being done by city employees.

Q: Should educational support professionals receive fair wages and health care benefits?

A: Absolutely. I support fair wages and health care for all.

Q: What do you think about districts that outsource the work of employees in order to eliminate health care or retirement benefits for those employees?

A: I disagree.

Q: As you know, private company employees perform many non-instructional and administrative jobs in schools around Michigan. Should private companies be permitted to take over regular instructional positions, such as teaching jobs, in all public schools, too?

A: Absolutely not.

Q: Often, private companies fail to deliver promised savings. In these instances, who should be held accountable -- and, how?

A: Private companies should be held to account for all contracted deliverables. If they do not deliver on their promises, they should have to pay penalties or lose the contract or both.

Q: Should jobs at public colleges and universities be privatized?

A: No.

Q: Considering the impact that outsourcing has on local and state (un)employment rates, tax collections, and consumer spending, should the state intervene to slow the trend of privatization because of the detrimental impact on communities and Michigan?

A: Yes. While we are all responsible to make our educational system better and improve opportunities for all Michiganders, we should never consider balancing the budgets on the backs of our teachers, aides, and support staff.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Legislative Alert

Your help is needed!

SB 1074 – The Mandatory Outsourcing of Non-Instructional Support Services (Pappageorge (R)-Troy) would require all school districts, including ISDs, to outsource all custodial, food service and transportation services no later than January 2011.

The bill allows the current union to bid on the services and mandates acceptance of the lowest bid.

The bill specifically provides that the outsourced employees may not be employed by the school district. This means those employees would automatically lose their credit in the school employees’ retirement system.

Right now, there is no hearing scheduled on the legislation to move it out of committee.

And to help keep things that way, please contact all members of the Senate Committee on Reforms and Restructuring.

Urge them to VOTE NO in committee on SB 1074.

Members of the committee include:

Senator Mike Bishop, (Chair) 517/373-2417 or

Senator Jud Gilbert, (Vice-Chair) 517/373-7708 or

Senator Tom George 517/373-0793 or

Senator Wayne Kuipers 517/373-6920 or

Senator Mike Prusi (Minority Vice-Chair) 517/373-7840 or

Senator Tupac Hunter 517/373-0994 or

Senator Deb Cherry 517/373-1636 or

In addition, call your own Senators and alert them of the bill. Urge them to VOTE NO on SB 1074

Friday, February 19, 2010

Proposed K-12 School Aid budget for 2010-11

The Governor proposed the following for next year's school aid budget:

Remember – there will be significant changes before a School Aid Bill is enacted.

• The Governor’s budget assumes an increase in sales tax revenue (from expanding the base to include some services and reducing the rate from 6% to 5.5%). She estimates that this will increase School Aid Fund revenue by $554 million, negating the need for an additional $255 per pupil cut.

• The $165 per pupil cut from 2009-10 remains in place for 2010-11.

• ISD operational funding will still be 80% of 2008-09 levels. (The 20% cut remains through 2010-11).

• All of the remaining ARRA funds (184 million) will be used in 2010-11. This still leaves the School Aid Fund short by $165 per pupil (plus $255 per pupil with no tax increase or reallocation of revenue. The $255 reduction will change as new revenue figures arrive throughout the year).

• By 2011-12, for all of the following services:
1. Purchasing services
2. Payroll services
3. Financial accounting services
4. Facilities maintenance services
5. Pupil transportation services
6. Human resource services
7. Technology services
8. Food services

ISDs must calculate a per pupil cost as if the ISD provided the service in the most “cost-effective method”. If a district’s costs are less than the ISD’s calculations, all is fine. If a district’s costs are more than the ISD’s calculations, the district has to enter into an agreement with the ISD to provide the service or forfeit 1% of their foundation allowance.

• There is no change in the foundation allowance.

• Instead of 30 snow hours, here is the new language – “the first 6 days or equivalent hours for which pupil instruct is not provided because of conditions not within the control of school authorities….shall be counted as hours and days of pupils instruction.”

• The MPSERS rate is 19.41%, ALTHOUGH – the act includes this language, “ the contribution rate for 2010-11 may be reduced… if reforms in the public school employees retirement system are enacted by the end of calendar year 2010.”

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Watch Out!

Many legislators and politicians are working very hard to take money away from you to fund the budget crisis in Michigan. It is important to stay connected with your legislators and keep your best interest in their ear.

Here are some of the possible proposals that could become bills in the next few weeks:

• Eliminate dental and vision coverage for all future retirees after this school year (2010).

• Increase the retirement multiplier from 1.5% to 1.6% for anyone that retires between July 1 and Sept. 1, 2010 (this is good for anyone who will retire this year).

• Employ a cost-effective, self funded retirement plan for new employees hired after Oct. 1, 2010 (move away from a pension plan).

• Outsource all support services (Transportation, food service, custodians, etc). This eliminated the retirement $ for those employees plus stops local control of services.

• Enforce a 5% pay-cut for all public employees (Depending on your salary/wages, it could range from $2,000 - $4,000 per year).

• Public employees to pay 20% of their current insurance premium (could be approx. $3,000-$4,000 per year).

• Increase your retirement contribution by 3.0% (most already pay over 3%) could range from $1,000 - $2,000 per year).


Please use the link below to contact your legislators concerning some or all of these items. Legislators are in the process of writing bills that could enforce these proposals. We can make a difference by letting them know that we are not in support of making the public employees shoulder most of the burden for the problems with the Michigan budget. There are many other methods in which they can create revenue to fix the school and public funding.

You can also call Jennifer Granholm (she is in favor and supporting some of these proposals) and other state officers:

Jennifer Granholm: 517-373-3400


Friday, January 29, 2010

Retirement Benefits Attacked

Today the state budget director, Bob Emerson, outlined proposed changes to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System.

The proposed changes:

Public school employees who are members of the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) will be subject to the following changes effective October 1, 2010:

* To ensure MPSERS is financially sound, employee contributions to the plan will increase by 3 percent for all employees except those in the MIP Plus program whose contribution was increased in 2008. MIP Plus members' contribution will increase by 0.9 percent.

* Elimination of subsidized retiree vision and dental coverage for school employees retiring with an effective date after October 1, 2010. Retirees will be able to purchase this coverage for a monthly fee through the plan.

* The retirement multiplier will be increased from 1.5 percent to 1.6 percent for employees who retire with an effective date between July 1 and September 1, 2010, which will be paid by the applicable school districts.

* A new, more cost-effective hybrid retirement plan for new employees hired on or after October 1, 2010, will be created. New employees will participate in both a base defined benefit plan and a defined contribution plan.

* Phased retirement option for retiring employees age 60 or older. Phased-in retirement will be allowed for up to three years, enabling employees to collect their DB plan retirement with a workload of no more than 20 hours per week for a previously full-time employee. This option is available to the employees at the discretion of the school districts.

Check back here for more information on this attack on your benefits.