MEA members experience the “MEA Advantage” in four key areas: For Your Career, For Your Rights, For Your Wallet and For Public Education:
The MEA Advantage for Your Career
Access to a variety of career advancement resources through MEA’s Center for Leadership & learning, including online professional development, certification guidance, conferences and trainings, and National Board Certification.
MEA provides members with up-to-date information on state requirements for maintaining a teaching certificate in Michigan, and provides assistance to members when individual questions arise.
MEA coordinates training in professional development, advocacy, member engagement, leadership, bargaining, communications and political action at our conferences and training sessions offered locally across the state.
MEA provides mentoring assistance to members who apply for National Board Certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The mentor conducts informational sessions to help participants complete the sometimes-complicated certification process. SCECH credit and scholarships are also available.
MEA provides assistance to members in addressing specific questions related to special education rules and services, including topics involving the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) rights. MEA also provides training to both EA members and ESP members on special education issues as they arise.
The MEA Advantage for Your Rights
Since 1852, when 20 teachers came together in Ypsilanti to form what would eventually become the MEA, public school employees have joined together to win and protect basic rights that help ensure they are treated with the fairness, respect and dignity they’ve earned.
It’s amazing how far teachers and education support professionals have come. Just until the middle of the 20th century, teachers could be fired for getting married. Until 1965, public school employees didn’t have the right to organize into local bargaining units to negotiate wages, benefits and other working conditions.
It’s also amazing that some people, including many state politicians, would like to take school employees back to the old days, when they were at the bottom of the wage scale, had zero rights on the job and were not respected as a profession.
Because school employees have gained so much since 1852 — and because opponents of public education would like to bring us back to 1852 — MEA provides members with numerous advantages to protect their rights. These members-only advantages include numerous services from UniServ directors, legal services and professional liability insurance.
One of the biggest advantages of MEA membership is the service provided directly to members by MEA’s UniServ directors. These highly trained professional labor relations consultants help teachers and education support professionals access a wide variety of services available only to members.
Here’s just a sample of what UniServ directors help members with: contract bargaining and interpretation; grievance processing; job security protection; retirement concerns; development of training programs to meet specific local needs; employee counseling for work-related problems; presentation of arbitration cases; unemployment compensation representation; bargaining crisis preparation; development of local public relations programs; assistance in governance matters; and processing civil rights violations
MEA members receive legal protection from matters arising out of their education employment. MEA employs several full-time attorneys and also retains prestigious law firms to help protect members’ legal rights. MEA’s legal work helps members in the following areas: wage and hour laws; unfair labor practices; layoff and recall; retirement; fringe benefits; unemployment compensation; education funding; negotiations; discrimination; health and safety; civil rights; and contract enforcement.
MEA strongly believes that employers should provide school employees with insurance to protect them from personal financial liability stemming from employment-related lawsuits. However, this is not always the case — that’s why MEA provides all members with $1 million in professional liability insurance as a benefit of membership.
The NEA Educators Employment Liability program, administered by MEA, protects members from personal financial liability for most incidents arising out of their educational employment activities or duties. Examples include student injuries and charges of educational malpractice. The insurance includes attorney’s fees, so members won’t have to pay a dime out of their own pockets to defend themselves from frivolous civil lawsuits related to their employment.
The MEA Advantage for Your Wallet
Think of the items and services a household regularly purchases — groceries, clothing, meals, oil changes, entertainment, home and auto insurance — it all adds up over time. Thankfully, MEA members have access to numerous member-only discounts that can save thousands of dollars each year on the items they buy most.
Take, for example, a typical MEA member who pays in the neighborhood of $800 a year in dues to support the collective bargaining, representation and advocacy efforts of their professional association. By just occasionally taking advantage of member-only discounts, that member can turn that $800 investment into thousands of dollars a year in discounts.
So while dues-paying MEA members enjoy numerous advantages for their careers, for their rights and for public education, the member-only discounts alone can easily offset the cost of dues.
By logging on to the Members Only section of www.mea.org, members can peruse a wide array of deep discounts on things like dining, eye care, home supplies, vacations, health products, golf and much more.
MEA members can also download the “My Deals” mobile app on their smartphones to find discounts in their neighborhoods.
In addition, MEA and MEA-Retired members can save hundreds of dollars each year on automobile and homeowners’ insurance through MEA Financial Services, a full-service insurance agency that provides policies exclusively for public education employees.
Because the agency is actually owned by the teachers, education support professionals and higher education employees who comprise MEA, MEA Financial Services’ team of insurance specialists does everything possible to keep costs down and save money for members, while providing them with high-quality coverage.
Through MEA Financial Services, members can also take advantage of group discounts on personal umbrella protection and coverage for rental property, boats, RVs, motorcycles, snowmobiles and more. To receive a no-obligation quote on auto, home and life insurance from MEA Financial Services, call 1-800-292-1950 or visit www.meafs.com.
Every MEA member is eligible for free life insurance through NEA, as well as deep discounts on group and individual life insurance plans through MEA Financial Services. For more information, visit www.neamb.com/insurance/nea-complimentary-life-insurance.htm.
The MEA Advantage for Public Education
With 120,000 members working together to improve educational outcomes for their students and working conditions for school employees, MEA is far and away Michigan’s largest and leading education organization. Together, we are “Champions for Education”.
At its core, MEA membership means better contracts together. Members work together, harnessing their collective power to bargain collectively for fair wages and working conditions.
However, MEA is more than a union — it’s an association that provides a real sense of community for all who are involved in public education. Despite their differences as individuals, the teachers, education support professionals, higher-education staff, students and retirees who comprise MEA form a massive and powerful alliance of professionals with one common goal: to provide the best education possible to all Michigan students.
No matter what challenges they might face, MEA members are never alone. There is always another member in the same building, district or state who understands the challenges and rewards that come with working in education.
From the corridors of the state Capitol in Lansing to the halls of school buildings across Michigan, MEA staff members are hard at work advocating for students and employees at all levels of public education in Michigan.
MEA’s Public Affairs Department includes experts in public policy, politics, communications and advocacy, who work side-by-side with school employees to make sure their stories are told to policymakers, media and the general public.
The Public Affairs Department also keeps members in the loop via member-only communications such as the MEA Voice, Capitol Comments and other electronic updates, which keep members informed on issues facing public education in Michigan. (Visit www.mea.org/signup to subscribe.) Meanwhile, MEA’s external outreach through traditional and social media outlets ensures that public education stays on the front-burner of the collective consciousness.
MEA’s local and statewide screening committees make recommendations to help members identify pro-public education candidates at the local, state and national levels. Electing friends of public education — from the local school board to the governor’s office — is extremely important, since elected officials have such a huge impact on the careers of school employees and the quality of education our children receive.
Local association meetings provide excellent forums for members to connect with their local colleagues. Members are eligible to vote for (or run for) leadership positions at the local, state and national levels.
To learn more about the advantages of MEA membership—or for answers to any of your questions—call MEA’s Help Center toll-free at 866-MEA-HELP (866-632-4357), or live chat with a Help Center operator by clicking on the icon in the upper left corner.