Following the PEA By-Laws:
If there is a Tentative Agreement (TA) during the summer, the fan-out will be used to get members to pick up their Tentative Agreements. At least one general informational meeting will be held, for questions. The general membership meeting may be held at the time members are notified to pick up Tentative Agreements, but will not be held more than one week after date of Tentative Agreement dispersal. Following the informational meeting, voting may take place at either a separate general meeting or at the first general membership meeting (or electronically). The Executive Board, at its discretion, will set the ratification election date.
The general membership meeting to discuss the TA will be held this Wednesday, June 24th beginning at 9:00am in the Central High School Auditorium. Copies of the TA will be available at the meeting and also electronically for those who can’t attend. (I’m working with MEA to see if the TA can be uploaded to the voting site. If not, I will post the TA to a secure Google site Wednesday morning.)
With the approval of a majority of Executive Board members, PEA members will vote from 9am on Wednesday, June 24th through 9am on Friday, June 26th. This will give the Board of Education a few days to ratify before the expiration of our current contract (and the increased insurance premiums are picked up 100% by our members.) Voting instructions are attached to this email.
As a reminder, only PEA members in good standing may vote on the TA.
You must be logged in to your Portage email account in order to view the Google site.
The PEA is successful due to our membership being intelligent and professional enough to realize the benefits of a union. Even after two years of having the option to ‘opt-out’ and freeload on the backs of their teaching colleagues, we have retained about 96% of the membership! We on the front lines of bargaining appreciate that level of support, understanding and commitment from our teachers! Without a strong union you lose the ability to collectively bargain. There would be no mutual contract. The district could eliminate any or all of the contract sections they found too costly or frustrating. Think about that! The cost to negotiate, protect and provide services isn’t free. Just as we’ve all seen the slogan ‘Freedom isn’t Free’, associated with soldiers who have died protecting American ideals and freedoms, the same is true of the union protecting the profession and the teachers. Please continue to support our union and we will absolutely continue to go to bat for our members and bargain to reach a fair contract. In addition, the union provides training, guidance, support and assistance in both contractual and non-contractual issues that arise for our members! Enjoy your summer break!
While we are waiting for a ruling from the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) regarding MEA’s August resignation (“opt-out”) window, we wanted to inform you about a change in the resignation process going forward. We are doing this to streamline the process and make sure fewer errors are made when processing “opt-outs.”
Effective immediately, for any resignations during August 2015 and any subsequent resignation time frames, all resignations of MEA membership must be submitted in writing, signed and dated by the member, and mailed to MEA at P.O. Box 51, East Lansing , MI 48826.
Any resignations as well as resignation-related correspondence, should be sent to the MEA Help Center (email@example.com) who will provide a written reply.
First let me say my point of view is based on having worked both non-union jobs and having been a union educator and leader for a quarter century. Unions came into being for a reason, somewhere along the way some of them grew so large and powerful they began to forget that they were created to serve the worker and not vise-versa. Today educators find themselves in a struggle in Michigan. With the MEA being less than the most efficient mechanism for change, and the so-called Right To Work offering an easy bail out to union membership, it is enticing for struggling teachers, or those fed up with the poor service of MEA in recent years, to consider opting out of the union. To be recognized as what is officially titled an Other Bargaining Unit Member (OBUM) or in laymen’s terms, a freeloader as a more accurate definition. Realize these opt-out are seen as freeloader because they contribute zero, zilch, nada, nothing to assist the union while at the same time expect to benefit from the union created contracts, salary, benefits and even grievance assistance. Even as an opt out ‘freeloader‘ the union, by law, must still represent their contract rights, file grievance and represent OBUM interests. Freeloading, opt-out teachers still get the contractual benefits the union created through collective bargaining such as salary schedules, contract language for sick leave, retirement incentives, work day, calendar year, etc.. They just refuse to contribute their share toward the cost of creating and defending that contract. Hardly fair or professional I would argue. I would characterize such an opt-out choice as highly selfish, divisive and destructive to the profession. It may be possible for a local to keep the freeloaders ‘on board’ for awhile, but here there could easily reach a tipping point where educators would lose in a single day all that has been built over 50 years of collective bargaining! Doesn’t seem possible does it? Hyperbole? No, reality! If just one too many educators think that the ‘saving dues’ will help them in either the short term or long term, they need to go back to school, before they learn the harshest lesson of their career!
“If the majority then decides that they do not wish to be represented by the union, than the union goes away and the contract goes away too. Everyone would basically become employees at will. So, yes the district could change the salary schedule, etc.” – MEA Uniserve Director
In 2011, the MEA had about 155,000 members comprised of all the educators, counselors, pathologists, psychologists, media specialists and other college educated, state certified, nationally highly-qualified employees making up the professionals of the Education Associations (EA) add to this all the bus drivers, custodial and maintenance workers, food service, secretarial and para-pro groups making up the Educational Support Personnel (ESP). With an outbreak of legislation, several bills became law like a wildfire in Lansing. The result was to be cost savings for school districts in the form of privatization of non EA jobs, and attacks to hinder progress of the profession of educator in the state. Four years later those that most hated the unions and organized labor have ironically made the very case for why a union is needed. Talk to any educator who has been in the profession, or retired from an educational career, in Michigan and they can tell you from direct experience the impact these ‘cost saving laws’ have had on the profession, and in turn the pedagogy and job satisfaction. Looking at today’s Michigan Education Association membership we find:
24,241 ESP members generating a total paid by ESP dues of $8,187,000
Avg ESP dues are $337.59/member that = Avg % paid by ESP is 1.38%
*ESP = Educational Support Personnel (i.e. transportation, custodial, food service, secretarial, maintenance, etc.)
72,320 EA members, Total by EA is about $38,264,000
Avg EA dues are $613.28, that = AVG % paid by EA (teachers) 1.00%
*EA = Education Association (i.e. teachers, counselors, psychologist, pathologists, etc.)
This means MEA has been reduced to 96,561 total union members (EA and ESP).
Teachers are 74.89% of the membership. Teachers’ dues generate 82.37% of the MEA’s money.
*statistics provided by our MEA Treasurer, Rick Trainor, on 4/15/15.
We are at a crossroads of the profession in Michigan. While the selfishness of opt-out/freeloader can be both monetarily and philosophically appealing to some frustrated with the MEA, or wanting to justify their ‘need’ for those dues money, realize that such a move creates a drain on the very system that provides the pay and benefits you currently have. Even when facing cutbacks, increased co-pays, larger class sizes, decreased supply budget (thanks Lansing legislators) matters will only get exponentially worse if that tipping point in unionism is reached. If your local should ever get to “fifty-percent minus one” you may find your current contract as a lost memory and be working for minimum wage level with little or no benefit package. What’s more, you’ll have no say in the matter, as you opted that away as well.
UNION SOLIDARITY! STILL THE BEST INVESTMENT FOR THE MICHIGAN EDUCATOR!
Special Education Millage 2015
Voters to decide special education millage proposal
- Tuesday, May 5, voters in the Kalamazoo RESA service area will be asked to consider a six-year, 1.5 mill property tax to help fund the cost of special education in our local schools. This includes Climax-Scotts, Comstock, Galesburg-Augusta, Gull Lake, Kalamazoo, Parchment, Portage, Schoolcraft and Vicksburg.
- Any registered voter who resides in a school district within the Kalamazoo RESA service area can vote.
- If approved, a 1.5-mill increase in the special education tax would cost the average homeowner about $92 a year, based on an average taxable home value of $61,470. For example, a home with a market value of $100,000 and a taxable value of $50,000 would pay $75 per year.
- Districts are collectively spending another $11 million this school year that is not reimbursed and currently comes from the district’s general operating budget.
- The special education millage has been proposed because these services are underfunded. The shortfall comes from several sources, most notably the drop in local property values.
- If approved, an increase in the special-ed tax would not be used to expand special-education services, but rather to reimburse Kalamazoo County’s nine school districts for special-education costs they already pay out of their general fund.
- “Portage has a lot of important decision to make. … It’s been part of our conversation, and it’s one thing that makes things tricky.” – KRESA Superintendent David Campbell
- Portage stands to gain about $2.5 million, which is close to the $2.7 million it now taps the general fund for to cover non-reimbursed special education costs. This proposal would allow Kalamazoo RESA to reimburse local districts for the shortage in special education funding.
- A YES vote and millage passage would free up about $2.5 million annually in Portage to spend on other programs, staffing and services not connected to special education. It would be a win-win for both regular and special education alike.
- Local school districts are mandated by state and federal law to provide special education services.
- The legal requirement incumbent on schools and educators is to address all students’ needs. It will be a matter of what PPS Board ‘wants’ and what are the legal and ethical ‘needs’ of the students and families. Sufficient funding is essential to meeting our professional & legal obligation.
- The Portage school board is certain it wants a November bond election, but it still is weighing whether to support KRESA’s request that local school boards in the county support a special education millage.
The Portage Education Association – In partnership with other are teachers’ unions throughout the county are endorsing and supporting this millage. We urge voters, parents and taxpayers to invest in our youth and schools and VOTE YES!
If you hadn’t gotten notifications in the mail or heard from your physician or co-workers there was some drama and stand-off taking place regarding fees and coverage. The medical giants worked it out in the final hours! See the link for the story and details