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 to 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.