Friday, May 27, 2011

Anti-tenure bills would kill collective bargaining, too

A four-bill package pending in the state House to overhaul tenure would actually reach far beyond what some say is the real problem – the time and money it takes to discharge a teacher with tenure.

The legislation – House Bills 4325, 4326, 4327, and 4328 – would, in fact, dismantle tenure AND collective bargaining of most subjects currently decided at the local bargaining table, including placement of employees, evaluation systems, discharge/discipline policies, and more. In an ironic turn, the legislation is backed by Republicans, who usually claim to oppose such intrusions on local control by state government.

Under this legislation, it would be possible for a school district to fire an unmarried, pregnant teacher. Or a tenured teacher who happens to be gay. Or an unpopular employee disliked by the principal. Or veteran teachers who can be replaced with cheaper, less experienced alternatives.

Read more

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Senate runs over school employees with HB 4152 and SB 7

The Senate today approved historic changes to collective bargaining and public employee compensation, stripping locally elected officials of the right to make important decisions.

•The Michigan Senate voted 21-17 on House Bill 4152, a bill to prohibit step wage increases for public employees when a contract expires and before a new contract is negotiated. The bill requires employees to pay increased costs of maintaining benefits after contract expiration AND would prohibit employers and employees from bargaining retroactive wage increases or benefit reimbursement. House Bill 4152 already passed the House – and, today, the House enrolled the bill, which now goes to Gov. Rick Snyder, who is expected to sign it into law. Contact Snyder NOW and ask him to veto House Bill 4152.

•The Senate voted 25-13 on Senate Bill 7, which requires employees to pay at least 20 percent of the cost of health care. This bill, which now heads to the House, allows local municipalities to opt out of requiring the employee contribution but there is no similar opt-out for school districts, community colleges, or universities. Also problematic is a provision that allows employers to decide how to spread the 20 percent cost among employees, meaning some employees will pay more or less than 20 percent of the cost of their own health plan cost. Contact your state representative NOW and ask him/her to oppose Senate Bill 7.

•The House Education Committee passed House Bills 4625, 4626, 4627, and 4628 to overturn due process and collective bargaining rights and make it possible for administrators to fire teachers without just cause. These bills would prohibit collective bargaining of many more subjects, including teacher placement, performance evaluation, and merit pay. MEA opposes these bills; contact your representative to ask him/her to vote no on this package.

•Media outlets reported a possible deal to restore some state funding for public education after state revenues were higher than expected. Details remain sketchy, but reports indicate the cut could go from $470 per student to $270 per student, which remains significant.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Act now: Help fight health care cost shift, privatization

Big votes expected Thursday -- we need your help!

Lawmakers on Thursday are expected to vote on separate proposals that strip local school districts of big decisions related to health care costs and privatization.

MEA staff and leaders will be at the Capitol Thursday to lobby against these bills -- and your legislative contacts are vital to our efforts to derail or modify these bills.  Contact Senator Walker and demand he vote NO on Senate Bill 7.  Contact your Representative and demand he vote NO HB 4306.

House considers major tenure overhaul

A four-bill package to dismantle teacher tenure would also eliminate significant collective bargaining rights for public employees.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

House Votes To Cut K-12 Funding

As you probably already have heard, the House voted to cut K-12 funding this past Thursday.  The House voted 57-53 for House Bill 4325.  Under the plan, K-12 districts will receive hundreds less in state aid per pupil for 2011-12 to pay for huge tax breaks for business.  Both Rep. Greg MacMaster (105th) and Frank Foster (107th) voted for the massive cut in order to give businesses a huge $1.8 billion tax cut.  While this vote is very disappointing, the budget battle isn't over. The House and Senate now must reconcile competing funding plans.  I have been hearing from numerous sources that your phone calls, e-mails, and letters are having a positive impact on the outcome of this and several other bill dealing with teacher tenure, attacks on unions, and collective bargaining.
The battle over K-12 funding is far from over.  We all must keep contacting our legislators and demand they stop this assault on public education, unions, and the middle class.  You have a prime opportunity on Monday May 16 to let your voice be heard by attending a meeting at Boyne City High School to speak directly to Rep. Greg MacMaster.  We need everyone to attend.  Rep. MacMaster owes us an explanation as to why he voted for the huge cuts to our schools while saying he is a strong proponent for public education and teachers.  Now is the time to act!  Keep contacting your legislator.  Do not let them off the hook!

Update To MacMaster Meeting

The meeting with Rep. Greg MacMaster on Monday, May 16, will be moved to Michele Deming and Dave Hills classroom at the high school.
The meeting will start at 4pm.  Please plan to attend and make your opinion known.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Chance To Voice Your Opinion

What: Meeting with Greg MacMaster

Where: Boyne City Middle School, room 137 (Carol Johnston’s room)

When: 4:00 p.m. Monday May 16th

Who: Teachers and Support Staff

Why: To be informed and let your representative know what issues are important to you. If you don’t tell him, he won’t know.
(Talking points will be handed out if you are afraid you won’t know what to say. :)

Thanks for your time! Please shoot me an e-mail if you plan to attend so I can get a head count.
~Stacy McGeorge