Michigan Education Association

History of MEA and Higher Education

The Michigan Education Association (MEA) came into being on October 12, 1852 in the John D. Pierce Hall at Michigan State Normal School in Ypsilanti. The MEA was originally organized as the Michigan State Teachers Association (MSTA) with about 200 teachers taking part in the founding. Any Michigan teacher could join by sending in their name and the dues of 25 cents.

By October 1921, the Association had grown so large that the membership called for establishment of a regional and district system, which we still have today. In addition, a statewide movement by teachers clubs generated increased activity to improve the welfare of the profession. These groups began considering issues such as sick leave, retirement, higher salaries, credit unions, and higher standards.

In 1926, the MSTA officially became the Michigan Education Association. Three years later, in 1929, the MEA erected its own headquarters building at 935 North Washington Avenue in Lansing.

In 1958, with membership of nearly 48,000, the MEA launched an expanded services campaign which included, among other things, an intensive legislative program and an all-around streamlining of the nation's fifth largest education association. By 1964, MEA had outgrown its headquarters in Lansing and moved to its present location in East Lansing.

In 1965, membership in MEA took on new meaning. In was in July of 1965 that Public Act 379, Public Employment Relations Act (PERA), was enacted by the Michigan Legislature, giving public employees, including faculty and school employees, the right to bargain with their employers as equals under the law.

Overnight, the MEA became an aggressive force for faculty and teacher rights and welfare, as well as other professional concerns. In the years since the advent of collective bargaining, MEA membership has increased from 65,000 faculty, teachers, principals and school superintendents to more than 130,000 faculty, teachers, administrative professional and support personnel.

Since 1965, working conditions for faculty, administrative professionals and support personnel have improved tremendously through the bargaining of master contracts by MEA local units in more than 500 Michigan school districts and more than 30 public and private colleges and universities.

In 1964, Central Michigan University faculty organized for collective bargaining and affiliated with the MEA. The CMU Faculty Association was one of the first higher education locals in the country. Since that time, faculty from Lake Superior State University, Ferris State University, Saginaw Valley State University, University of Detroit Mercy, Adrian College, Baker College, Detroit College of Business and Kendall College of Art and Design have organized and affiliated with the MEA. Faculty from 19 of Michigan's 29 community colleges also bargain and are affiliated with the MEA.

In 1974-75, an in-house task force recommended that MEA pursue the formation of an organization to represent Educational Support Professional for the purposes of collective bargaining. In the spring of 1975, the MEA Representative Assembly endorsed this recommendation and MESPA (Michigan Educational Support Professional Association) was on its way to becoming a reality.

In the spring of 1981, MESPA affiliated with the NEA and in the spring of 1983, the MEA Representative Assembly voted to make active membership available to MEA ESP-NEA members effective September 1984. The final step took place on May 19, 1984 when ESP members voted to join the MEA family. The combining of the two groups created one of the largest single unions dealing with public education.

Higher education faculty concerns and issues are addressed through the Michigan Association for Higher Education within MEA. The purpose of MAHE, delineated in its constitution and by-laws, is to promote continuous improvement of higher education in Michigan, to share with the MEA policy development for education and to secure for higher education faculty the professional advantages which accrue from cooperative action. A higher education faculty member from a two- or four-year college and university in Michigan, if an MEA member, is eligible for membership in MAHE. The MAHE Board of Directors meets five to seven times a year.


Updated: February 12, 2009 7:44 PM