The Michigan Legislature is currently on a two-week break, set to return two weeks from today on November 29for it’s Lame Duck period.

Typically, Lame Duck is often very busy, with lawmakers trying to pass as much unfinished legislation as possible before the session expires.  Given that the November 8 election did not result in a change in the balance of power in the Michigan Legislature, it is possible that current leaders will not try to rush too much legislation through in December.

However, the Republican leadership and funders like Dick DeVos have made their interests clear. Their number one priority is eliminating pensions for newly-hired public employees.

AFT Michigan is organizing to fight against this attack.  Public school employees deserve to retire with dignity and security. Our students deserve to have the best teachers, paraprofessionals and school support personnel, which is a goal only accomplished when we are able to attract and retain talented, committed people. Slashing compensation through eliminating pensions is the exact wrong approach.

We encourage everyone to write and call their legislators to tell your story of why a secure retirement is essential to you. You can find your state representative’s phone number and email address here.

Below you’ll find some information that will help you in discussing this complex and important topic with your legislator. You can also find more information here.

Michigan Pension Information

Traditional Defined Benefit Plans Offer Better Return On Investment than 401(K) Plans

A 2014 study by former House Fiscal Agency Director Mitch Bean and former Michigan State Treasurer Robert Kleine found that traditional pensions offer an average 1% increased annual return on investment earnings over 401(k) plans, and have administrative costs (fees) approximately .5% less.  This equals a 1.5% overall improvement on annual returns for traditional pension plans, a number that creates a dramatic difference in earnings over a 30 year work span.

Closing a Pension System Generates Large Transition Costs

When a pension system is closed, it must immediately receive a large infusion of funds to make up for the lost future earnings of new members.  These costs, known as “transition costs,” can be massive.  The Office of Retirement Services estimates that the state would need to add $500 million in new funds to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) should it be closed.  The Bean-Kleine study explained that these costs come from a combination of the loss of new member revenue and the necessity to reconfigure investment assets into a more conservative portfolio.  There are also additional costs stemming from essentially running two retirement systems – one for current employees and one for those hired after the system is closed.

Pensions are not “Broken”

Two major economic downturns in the last 15 years have played havoc with traditional pension systems, but they are not “unsustainable” as some would claim.  Just ten years ago, the public school pension system was nearly fully funded, and it, like most public pension systems in Michigan, is well on the way to recovery.  What is truly broken are the retirement dreams of those workers nearing retirement who have only a 401(k) that collapsed during the Great Recession and do not have the ability to recover over time like traditional pension plans can.  Those individuals face either working years longer than they had planned, or seeking public assistance if they cannot.

Pensions are Vital to Michigan’s Economy and Senior Wellbeing

The National Institute for Retirement Security estimates that pensions in Michigan generate over $11 billion in economic activity each year, and support 77,000 jobs.  In addition, they play a key role in providing Michigan seniors with a safe and secure retirement.  As the private sector has largely abandoned traditional pensions, government assistance programs to seniors have grown correspondingly.  Public pensions are one of the last bastions of secure retirement for Michigan workers, including police officers, fire fighters and school teachers.  Traditional pensions are the best tool for helping workers plan their own retirement and not have to rely on loved ones or public assistance to make ends meet.

The Last Month of Session is NOT the Time to Reform Pensions

Although the overall outlook of Michigan pensions is good, there are certainly changes that could be made to make it easier for public employers to deal with pension debts and ensure long term stability for public pension systems.  However, the systems are far too complex to attempt any sweeping changes in the Lame Duck session like the ones being proposed by some elected officials.  Michigan legislators should oppose rushing to judgement on this issue and instead tackle it in the next legislative session.

Read More


The Portage Education Association and Portage Public Schools’ administration worked long hours and eventually reached a tentative agreement shortly prior to midnight, Tuesday June 14.

Members are urged to regularly check their school and personal email for details on a general membership meeting and timelines and links to voting on-line.

The Executive Board will be working rapidly to set dates and time for the required meeting and voting window. Details will be posted and emailed.

In order to have the right to vote members must be considered ‘in good standing’ with their dues obligations. Please consult prior emails for details on how and who to contact at MEA HQ to get you current if that is an issue.

TA reached

Read More

Court Rules in MEA’s favor! 3% Retirement Healthcare Case



Below is a link to the MEA’s June 8, 2o16 release on Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Michigan Appellate Court’s favorable ruling. It will help clarify this ruling, the method of pay back, etc..  You can get subsequent updates by following the developments on the MEA website


Read More

Lansing Legislature continues to attack public education!

If YOU are not staying informed, not contacting elected representatives, and not voting, who do you think is going to save your career and our profession? The negative impact of proposed legislation will only further erode our schools and profession in Michigan if we do not exercise a strong voice as individuals and maintain a strong union as professionals things will not get better on their own!
Senate Education Committee on Tuesday [2/3/2016] approved a package of bills to punish Detroit teachers involved in sick-outs to call attention to the terrible conditions. Under the bills, teachers involved in sick-outs could face the loss of their teaching certificate, and their bargaining units could be decertified for five years.
Language added to the bills at the last minute would allow union bargaining units to be dissolved even if the only person involved in a “strike” is a non-member – even if the union did not approve the individual’s action!

In addition, A House bill to make the school calendar off-limits to bargaining is expected to get a hearing in the House Education Committee next week.

House Bill 5194, introduced by Education Committee Vice Chair Daniela Garcia (R-Holland), is co-sponsored by every Republican member of the committee. The change would make the school calendar a management decision prohibited from bargaining. 
MEA strongly opposes the loss of members’ right to negotiate school calendars on the local level.
“We have to stay together and stay strong as a union to get the word out to the rest of the state, and to try to overcome this stuff coming down from people that are anti-public education,” said Baldwin EA member Stewart Nasson, a school counselor.

Read the entire article at

Read More

A letter from PEA Negotiating Team to our Board Trustees and superintendent

Read More

News reporter nails it!

The issue cuts across urban, suburban and rural districts. It cuts across racial and socioeconomic lines. It goes to the core of American culture, parenting, media exposure for ratings only and what we as a society are willing to tolerate, correct and find unacceptable.


Read More

Students assaulting teachers is NEVER acceptable!

PEA members,

This communication is to make us all aware of our rights and options when ANY student K-12, general education or special education, assaults us in ANY way!
Assault can include any strike, kick, punch, slap, spit, hit, head butt, stabbing, throwing objects, etc.
The protocol recommended is to do the following:
1. IMMEDIATELY report the incident to the administrative supervisor and/or principal. Document the event via email and/or paper work while the event is fresh in your mind recalling
Who witnessed the event or may have been involved or present during the assault (staff, parapros, students, etc)
Where it occurred (lobby, cafeteria, room #, location within room, etc)
When it occurred (day of week, date, time of day),
What exactly happened (describe the assault in detail – hit with which arm? kicked? spit? use of weapon? etc) What part of your body seemed injured or involved at the time? Communicate all these details to the administration! You should Cc copies to the PEA president as well as well as to yourself at your private email and to your building’s PEA representative.
2. Seek medical attention immediately!  Even seemingly minor incidents can result in undiagnosed blood clots leading to stroke, infections, bone diseases and hematoma hours or days later. DO NOT assume ‘you’re okay’. This can be covered by the employers policy but do not wait to be checked out – sooner is better and safer.
3. Notify your union representative as soon as possible. Helping you get through such a traumatic event is a benefit of membership and we will work proactively to see your health and safety are paramount!
Too often the mistakes that are made and that harm others in profession are:
1. Lack of documentation: Teachers fail to memorialize the events, assaults and attacks with email, formal medical attention, etc. It’s our own fault when we don’t do this and it places other students and staff at risk in the future by helping to hide the behavior from others, and the official record.
2. Minimizing event: Because the student was of elementary age, identified as Special Education and/or IEP, or because the teacher doesn’t want to appear to not be a ‘team player’ or being overly ‘dramatic’ etc..
3. Didn’t draw blood: Because the assault didn’t immediately seem to have visible result (immediate bruising, bleeding, swelling, etc).
4. Futility: It’s a manifestation of a diagnosis so there’s nothing that can be done (FALSE!) A sense that this has happened many times before and nothing is ever done about it. A belief, accurate or inaccurate, that the administration won’t do anything and hasn’t done anything.
5. It’s part of the job: A false belief that working within a public school institution and with children of all abilities and disabilities means sometimes you’re gonna get spit on, kicked, hit, slapped, stabbed, punched, choked and assaulted.
I will address each of these quickly:
1. Without documentation the 43rd assault could appear as the first if none of the previous ones were documented as they should have been! We need to amass documentation to support discipline and expulsion. We need documentation at manifest hearing for location to a facility suited for violent youth.
2. Very often injuries manifest hours, days, even weeks later. Would you expect your child to not report being assaulted for days or weeks? Infections and clots can be lifelong conditions having debilitating results or even being fatal. You owe it to your family, colleagues and student body to follow through with reporting and getting treatment, it’s the professional thing to do.
3. Concussions don’t show externally, blood clots working their way to the brain, groin, etc., don’t always appear suddenly. Emotional trauma of being attacked at work doesn’t show on the skin. Saliva may contain communicable diseases and pathogens that will appear weeks or months later after exposure. Clots resulting from blunt trauma are potentially fatal, etc. Get professional, medical attention with follow up! 
4. How administration may choose to address violent students is their choice. Documentation of students’ assaulting, violent behaviors is something administration would need in order to take more stringent disciplinary steps leading to a possible expulsion.
5. We are not in a juvenile correctional facility – assaults are NOT to be tolerated. It is a criminal act beyond just school policies and rules! You can call the police and press charges regardless what actions the administration may take.
Read the information at this helpful link:
Here is an article published in the NEA regarding When Educators Are Assaulted
Read More