Senate runs over school employees with HB 4152 and SB 7

Fight back! Lawmakers need to hear from you!

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

Despite intensive lobbying by MEA leaders, staff, and others, the GOP-led Senate passed bills that impede local control and impact all public employees in some way.

The Michigan Senate voted to eliminate step wage increases between contracts and to require employees to pay at least 20 percent of the cost of health care, issues currently negotiated locally between employers and employees. The bill affecting step increases now goes to the governor for his signature; the health cost bill now goes to the House, where it could be amended.

Plans are under way to help you respond to these actions – contact your local association president to find out what’s happening locally. Other activities include a major protest Saturday at the Capitol (read on for details). We will post additional details at www.mea.org.

Here’s an overview of today’s developments:

  • 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.