Monday, June 29, 2009

Important Legislative Update!

The House Education Committee has reported out to the full House of Representatives a package of bills that the MEA strongly supports.

HB 4788 – This is very important legislation as it amends PERA (Public Employees Relations Act). This piece of legislation:
1) REMOVES the prohibition against bargaining over privatization,
2) REMOVES the prohibition against bargaining the first day of the school year,
3) REMOVES the prohibition against bargaining the granting of a leave of absence to teach in a charter school.
Item 2 would be particularly useful to teacher bargaining units as we struggle with the increasing “fixed” requirements regarding the school calendar; i.e., mandatory 2 weeks in December/January, and the mandatory first week of April for Spring Break.

Item 1 is becoming increasingly important to MEA bargaining groups as school districts seek to privatize their custodial, food, and transportation services, affecting hundreds of MEA members who drive our buses, cook and feed children, and clean our schools.

Details in other legislation include the preservation of bargaining rights for employees in “failing” schools. Also, the provisions of the new legislation limit charter school expansion to the "last resort" after all other efforts fail to make improvement in the “failing” school. It also states that the charter schools must be located in the attendance are of the “failing” school. This has not yet become a concern for our school district, but I believe it is important to consider this issue as it affects other schools around us and school choice.

PLEASE WRITE YOUR LEGISLATORS!!!! Please urge them to support the amendments to PERA and guidelines for preserving bargaining right for employees in “failing” schools. Use EMAIL!!! Use your home accounts! I have listed districts, names, and email addresses below!

District 37 – Farmington & Farmington Hills – Vicki Barnett

District 38 – Novi, Walled Lake City, Wixom – Hugh Crawford

District 39 – West Bloomfield Twp., Commerce Twp.
Lisa Brown

District 43 – West Bloomfield – Gail Haines

District 44 – White Lake Township – Eileen Kowall