EAST LANSING – With the Legislature’s passage today of HB 4206 – which will allow schools to forgo making up days from this winter’s record-cold emergency days – the Michigan Education Association is calling on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to quickly sign the legislation. Doing so will allow school districts to finalize schedules for the end of the school year – and to choose to do right by their hourly employees and pay them for those forgiven days.
“With only a month left in the school year, everyone involved deserves certainty, especially after long legislative negotiations on this issue,” said MEA President Paula Herbart. “We encourage Gov. Whitmer to quickly sign this legislation so schools and families can finalize their plans, both in terms of schedules and finances. Many students – and educators – have jobs to start immediately when school ends and have been patiently waiting for this legislation to pass.”
However, some hourly employees – like bus drivers, custodians, food service workers and other school support staff – may be hurt financially by this legislation. Some of these employees are paid for days when school is called off for weather and other emergencies, but others are not. With some districts experiencing more than 20 snow days this winter, that could mean weeks of lost pay. Language that would have required hourly school employees be paid for these extra emergency days was stripped from the bill by Senate leadership.
“The fact is, school districts don’t need the Legislature to tell them what is right – they can make that choice for themselves,” Herbart said. “With this legislation, districts will be receiving the same level of funding they were otherwise expecting – which means they have the money to pay these hourly workers what they would have made, without any budgetary impact. MEA is calling on all school districts to do the right thing for these workers and their families.”
To that end, MEA is releasing a template letter of agreement that can be entered into between school districts and their support staff unions, which calls for employees impacted by this legislation to be fully compensated for the forgiven emergency days. MEA will be actively working with school districts where support staff are represented to enter into this letter of agreement as soon as possible.
“We will work at the local level, through collective bargaining, to hold employees financially harmless for these emergency days that are beyond their control,” Herbart said. “Gov. Whitmer’s signature on HB 4206 will allow us to begin that work in earnest.”
The text of the template letter of agreement is as follows:
Re: State of Emergency School Closings for the 2018-19 School Year
Because the Michigan Legislature has passed legislation that forgives school districts from having to make up days when schools were closed due to the Governor’s declared State of Emergency, and because no school aid (funding) is lost due to this additional forgiveness of allowable school closings, and because employees who were not able to work on these days suffer great financial harm from the pay loss attributable to this State of Emergency, the parties do hereby agree to the following:
- All bargaining unit members (employees) who suffered pay loss from days attributable to the Governor’s declared State of Emergency shall receive their normal day’s pay for each of those lost work days included in HB 4206 (January 29, 2019 to Feb. 2, 2019).
- Said pay will be included in the employee’s next scheduled payroll after execution of this Agreement.
This Letter of Agreement sets no precedent or practice for future State of Emergency declarations that may result in additional school closings.
Contact: Doug Pratt, MEA Director of Public Affairs, 517-337-5508