Once again a Michigan Appeals court has ruled in favor of MEA and AFT Michigan in the so-called 3 percent case involving unconstitutional deductions taken from school employees’ paychecks from 2010-12 to fund future health care in retirement.
The case illustrates the power of standing together and taking collective action, as the litigation has stretched over five years and across several appeals by the State of Michigan. We have prevailed at every juncture.
Many questions remain – such as how or when affected school employees could be reimbursed from a pot of more than $550 million that has been sitting in escrow during nearly five years of litigation. MEA lawyers are reviewing the decision, so stay tuned for updates in the coming days and weeks.
Like many MEA members, Brenda Wilcox-Kronner – a high school social worker with L’Anse Creuse Public Schools – is impatient to get her money back. “It is money I worked for, and it was taken away from me illegally. I demand my money back with interest!”
Meanwhile, MEA President Steven Cook applauded the ruling and urged state officials to accept it. “We have seen this fight to what we hope is the end and we are gratified to see justice served every step of the way,” Cook said. “In light of their defeat at every level of the courts, I urge the Governor and the Attorney General to accept the Court of Appeals’ ruling and not appeal this decision.”
MEA, along with AFT Michigan, filed suit soon after the 2010 passage of PA 75, which mandated school districts withhold 3 percent of each employee’s wages for retiree health care. 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 today’s ruling.
In 2012, state lawmakers passed a replacement law, PA 300, which was upheld by the Supreme Court last April.