Tuesday, December 6, 2016

TUESDAY, 12/6/2016 Legislative Update ACTION PLEASE

Greetings Fellow MEA Members,

Last night Gretchen Dziadosz, the Executive Director of the MEA, sent out a legislative update.

“As you know, we are fighting multiple fronts in lame duck. Not only are we fighting the pension cuts, the bill to eliminate calendar bargaining, but also the loss of association release time for leaders.

Thanks for all you are doing, especially, the massive effort on pension. It is having positive impact, although the fight is not over.”

"We need your help on the release time legislation.”

What our director is referring to is Senate Bills 279 and 280.

            Bill 279 – This bill would no longer allow union officials to have the state-funded pensions calculated from their union salaries.  This means that if your union president has release time, any of that time would not count toward their retirement.  This could be as far reaching as not allowing ANY member any union release time to take care of union business during the school day, unless they give up credit toward retirement.  This means all bargaining and perhaps disciplinary meetings and other union related business, could only occur outside of the school day, unless retirement credit was forfeited.

            Bill 280 – This bill would prohibit paid release time for union officials.  This would include a paid period of time where a teacher leaves the classroom to serve as the head of their local union or in the Michigan Education Associaiton.

It is already illegal for a school district to pay the retirement payment to ORS for any release time union members might have.   In most districts this has already significantly reduced the release time members have to go to trainings or to bargain because their local must repay the 25% share of retirement costs that districts must pay to the ORS.

These bills were being actively pursued last winter, but they have been “dormant” for a while now.  It looks like they have reappeared during this Lame Duck Session.

These bills are meant to reduce and/or eliminate MEA member voices in the operation of their schools!!!  The administrators’ state organizations, MASB and MASA, ALSO oppose these bills.   It is recognized even by their organizations as a means to severely impede the smooth operation of their districts!

There will be a committee meeting this Thursday at 8:15 am to hear testimony for and against these bills.  Here are the committee members who will be in the hearing on Thursday:
Joe Graves (Chair, 51st, Linden)
Jason Shephard (Vice Chair, 56th, Temperance)
Mike Callton (87th, Nashville)
Nancy Jenkins (57th, Clayton)
Joel Johnson (97th, Clare)
Bruce Rendon (103rd, Lake City)
Pat Somerville (23rd, New Boston)
Holly Hughes (91st, Montague)
Tom Barrett (71st, Potterville)
Daniella Garcia (90th, Holland)
Gary Glenn (98th, Midland)
Eric Leutheuser (58th, Hillsdale

Please pick ONE OR ALL of these legislators and write or call! 
Tell them:  that union release time is valuable to both union members and the school districts.  By having this time to talk and have discussions, problems are averted and discussions are held that clarify ways to solve potential problems from becoming bigger issues.  Tell them that it is important to you that your elected union leaders have the opportunity to share your concerns and needs while you caDOn be present in your classroom doing the work you love!