Cook was joined in the petition delivery by AFT Michigan President David Hecker and MEA member, Lansing teacher and lawsuit plantiff Deborah McMillan, along with other MEA and AFT members. By law, Snyder and Schuette have 42 days from the June 7 Court of Appeals decision to appeal the case to the Michigan Supreme Court. That deadline is in mid-July.
MEA President Steven Cook and several MEA members helped to deliver more than 33,000 petition signatures to the offices of Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette today, demanding they stop wasting taxpayer money appealing court rulings that say school employees are owed $550 million from unconstitutional paycheck deductions.
“We’ve been fighting this court battle for five years, and Gov. Snyder and Attorney General Schuette should stand up for hardworking school employees, not work against them,” Cook said.
“Michigan school employees — including retirees who are still owed money they have earned — have families to feed, mortgages to pay and college debts to pay off. School employees deserve the return of their hard-earned money now, and we urge the governor and attorney general to stop the appeals and stop the delays.”
“The longer this case drags on, the more that school employees like myself feel even more dissed, demeaned and devalued by those who were elected to represent us,” said McMillan, who has taught in Michigan for 40 years.
“No one goes into education for the money — you do it for the love of kids — yet we at least hope to earn a fair wage, and that’s why I urge Snyder and Schuette to stop obstructing justice and return the money that belongs to thousands of school employees across the state,” said AFT Michigan member Michelle Cook, who is a preschool teacher in Hamtramck Public Schools.
MEA and AFT Michigan filed suit soon after the passage of PA 75 mandating all school employees contribute 3 percent of their salary to fund retiree health care — a benefit they were not guaranteed to receive.
Both the trial court and Court of Appeals agreed the law violated state and federal constitutional protections involving the taking of private property without compensation, due process, and impairment of contracts.
Following those losses, the state asked the Supreme Court to hear the case. Instead, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the Court of Appeals for further consideration, which resulted in the June 7 ruling.
In 2012, state lawmakers passed a replacement law, PA 300, which was upheld by the Supreme Court last April. Under that law, school employees were required to make elections regarding health care in retirement and voluntary deductions.
“We urge Gov. Snyder and Attorney General Schuette to do the right thing by dropping this case and returning the money that rightfully belongs to hard-working Michigan school employees,” said AFT Michigan’s Hecker. “These appeals have been a complete waste of time and taxpayer resources and are the latest in a long line of continued attacks on school employees. The return of this money could mean thousands of dollars for individual school employees and their families — further delays and appeals are a slap in the face to the people charged with educating our children.”
For more information about the 3 percent lawsuit and what the recent decision means, check out our Frequently Asked Questions document.