Register Now! AFT Michigan Legislative Education Action Day

We hope you'll join us for our Legislative Education Action Day (LEAD) focusing on PreK-12 Education Issues. AFT Michigan teachers, paraprofessionals, and support staff will gather in Lansing to learn about and discuss legislation affecting education, lobby elected officials in support of AFT Michigan's policy positions, and plan for future advocacy action.

All AFT Michigan members are encouraged to attend Legislative Education Action Day. We hope you'll join us -- please RSVP for our Legislative Action Day :
Registration, Agenda and Driving Information

 

Union Teachers at Detroit's Largest Charter School Win Unprecedented Settlement While Hundreds of Students, Parents, and Teachers Watch Film About César Chávez

DETROIT - On César Chávez's Birthday March 31, teachers at César Chávez Academy (CCA), Detroit's largest charter school won an impressive settlement that will return educators to the school and provide over $75,000 in back pay. Representatives from the teachers union, The César Chávez Alliance of Charter Teachers & Staff (CCA ACTS), reached a late deal on Monday evening with The Leona Group - the for-profit company that manages the day-to-day operations of the charter school. Download full press release >>

 

AFT Michigan Endorses Mark Schauer for Governor and Gary Peters for U.S. Senate


January 27, 2014 – The AFT Michigan Administrative Board has endorsed Mark Schauer for Michigan Governor and Gary Peters for the U.S. Senate.

Learn more >>

 

AFT Michigan Challenges Governor's State of the State

"Tonight, Governor Rick Snyder disappointed every person across Michigan who values public education. Unfortunately for Michigan schools, his rhetoric doesn't pay the bills. He failed to address how he was going to reverse the devastating funding cuts to neighborhood schools and public colleges and universities," said David Hecker, president of the American Federation of Teachers — Michigan. "If Snyder truly believes that education is a priority, then he would find a way to undo his debilitating funding cuts to schools that were used to pay for a tax giveaway to big businesses and he would use the budget surplus to properly fund every level of education in Michigan."
Contact: David Hecker, 313-204-6115, dhecker@aftmichigan.org

 

Retirement Court Decision

Statement from David Hecker, President, AFT Michigan:

"Once again, Michigan educators have been let down by Michigan courts, which today upheld Gov. Snyder's attempt to retroactively cut the pensions earned by hard-working school employees. Republicans appear bent on pulling the rug out from under the women and men who have devoted their lives to educating our children, breaking the promises made to them by the state for decades. This just makes it even more clear how badly we need leaders who will promote a secure retirement for Michigan's working families, not take it away from them."

In 2010, and 2012, the Michigan legislature made changes in the school employees' retirement system which AFT Michigan has taken to court to overturn. The 2010 case is the original "3%" case which we have won in two lower courts but is now awaiting a decision from the Michigan Supreme Court. Today the Michigan Court of Appeals issued an opinion regarding the 2012 changes to the Public School Employees Retirement Act. The Court affirmed a decision of the Court of Claims which declined to find that these changes breached a contract with public school employees or unjustly enriched the State of Michigan by the retention of the value of interest earned on healthcare contributions

The arguments raised by AFT Michigan asserted that:

  • The State of Michigan had created a contract with public school employees which PA 300 breached; the State had promised that retirement would be based on a 1.5% "multiplier;" that PA 300 required employees to pay more to keep what the State had promised.

  • The taking of the 3% had previously been found to be unlawful in an earlier decision of the Court of Appeals and PA 300 did not fix the problems noted in that case.

  • Under PA 300 MPSERS could, for decades, keep the 3% contributions of people who never qualified for retiree health care; that the monies would be refunded under terms so unreasonable as to unjustly enrich the State.

The Court did not accept these arguments basing its decision on the conclusion that the Legislature is free to make changes to retirement, no matter who gets harmed; that payment of the 3% is now voluntary, therefore a refund may be made if required without paying the employee the value of interest earned. This only covers the deductions made since 2012.

AFT Michigan is disappointed by the decision and will consider submitting an appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court. We are still waiting for the court to decide the original case from the 2010 changes to the retirement system.

Whatever the financial challenges faced by MPSERS the Michigan Legislature did not consider the impact of these harsh changes on the people who are intended to be protected by that fund. This is another example of the Governor and Legislature breaking the promise made to public school retirees, our families and our students. It is apparent the courts will not be a remedy. The only way to fix this is to focus on the 2014 elections – the Governor, the Legislature, and the courts.


Download printable copy >>

 

Remarks by AFT Michigan president David Hecker on the Common Core Standards

AFT Michigan and AFT National have supported and advocated for Common Core standards. We did so because we have always advocated for high academic standards that reflect knowledge and competencies students should possess to be able to compete in a global economy, including critical thinking and problem solving. Read More >>

 

Update on Dues Collection Systems

8-19-13
The past year has been filled with many changes and adjustments to how we conduct union business, especially in terms of dues collection. PA 53 took away the option for K-12 local's to have members dues automatically deducted through payroll. Most recently an injunction that was issued which stayed PA 53 from going into affect was dissolved.

If you signed up under the alternative dues system last year you will receive a confirmation of those arrangements in your personal email account for you to view and update if necessary. All members are encouraged to attend scheduled back to school union meetings to learn more about what is going on in your local and actions needed.

It is important that we continue on a proactive path and be prepared as we moved forward. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding dues collection. You may use the feedback form here, or email dues@aftmichigan.org directly.

 

Michigan Council on Educator Effectiveness Releases Final Report

The Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness released their final recommendations for a system of educator evaluation in Michigan on July 24, 2013.
Download .pdf for more information on their recommendations >>

 


Capitol Report

Capitol Report

The most recent Capitol Report is available for download on the Take Action > Capitol Report page. Among the many bills we are monitoring this session, AFT Michigan has delivered testimony on the higher education budget and Educational Achievement Authority. Links to this testimony are also available on the Take Action > Capitol Report page, as well as weekly Legislative Updates.

 

Legislative Updates

Senate Rams through EAA Expansion: House Vote expected Thursday!

After a lot of backroom dealing between some Senate Republicans and Governor Snyder, the Michigan Senate has passed a new version of HB 4369 which expands the scope and power of the Educational Achievement Authority.

This bill is dangerous legislation that allows for the state takeover of public schools deemed to be in the bottom five percent statewide based on standardized testing. Please contact your state Representative NOW to ask them to oppose EAA expansion. Send an email to your state Representative or a call would be even better.

If the original House bill was bad, this Senate version is worse. Here's why we need you to take action:

  • There is NO CAP on the number of schools which could be added to the EAA.

  • The bill "prioritizes" K-8 schools -- less expensive to operate than secondary schools -- for transfer.

  • When a school is placed in the EAA, its employees lose their existing and collectively bargained contract.

  • New EAA employees would not be in the MPSERS retirement system.

The EAA, in operation for little more than a year, is a failed experiment. It's downright reckless for Gov. Snyder and Republican legislators to move forward with expanding the powers and size of the EAA, especially in light of the fact that about 2,500 students left EAA schools this year, representing 24 percent of the district's population. That's hundreds of families who "voted with their feet" and left the EAA.

Please send an email or call your representative NOW - Thursday is the last legislative work day for the year, and the vote could be called at any time.


A larger rundown of what is happening in the Legislature can be found in the weekly Legislative Report.

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