MEA members elect new officers

Members select Lansing parapro to lead state's largest school employee union

EAST LANSING, Mich., Monday, May 2, 2011-- On Saturday, MEA members elected Steven B. Cook, a paraprofessional from Lansing Public Schools, to serve as president of the state's largest school employee union.

Cook, the current MEA vice president, will be the first education support professional to serve as MEA president in the organization's 160 year history.

"Michigan is in a crisis right now. MEA's members need to stand united in fighting lawmakers' attacks on public education and the middle class," Cook said. "I'm honored to have the trust and support of my colleagues. And I look forward to leading our union to a brighter future."

Current MEA President Iris K. Salters had previously announced her retirement effective Aug. 31, 2011, creating a vacancy in MEA's top post.

"After 40 years in public education and union activism, it's bittersweet for me to end this phase of my calling," Salters said. "But I couldn't be prouder than handing over this responsibility to a friend and colleague like Steve Cook."

A graduate of Michigan State University, Cook was a paraprofessional for 15 years in Lansing Public Schools, working as a community school coordinator and as a home/school liaison for an elementary attendance program. He served 12 years as local president of the Lansing Educational Assistants union before being elected MEA secretary-treasurer in 1993 and MEA vice president in 2006.

President-elect Cook takes the helm of one of the largest state affiliates of the National Education Association, serving more than 155,000 teachers, education support professionals, higher education faculty and staff, school retirees and student members.

"Becoming the first support staff member to be president of this union is a huge honor. It's also a strong symbol that all of us in public education stand together as union brothers and sisters," Cook said. "And we will continue to stand together in advocacy for our students, our schools, our communities and our state."

In addition to the election of a new president, Wayne-Westland middle school teacher Nancy Strachan was elected as vice president and Mt. Pleasant English and physical education teacher Rick Trainor was elected to serve as secretary-treasurer.  All three executive officer terms are for three years beginning on Sept. 1, 2011, and running through Aug. 31, 2014.

MEA officers are elected by democratically-chosen delegates to the MEA Representative Assembly, the organization's highest governing body. There are more than 1,000 RA delegates, all of whom are directly elected at the local and regional level by MEA members across the state.

Contact: Doug Pratt, Director of Public Affairs, (800) 292-1934  ext. 5566