In AFT, Blog, Legislative Update

In the first three of 12 session days scheduled before the end of the legislative term, we’ve seen hundreds of bills introduced, and dozens of committee hearings. This first week, despite the rapid pace of bill movement, is largely about teeing up the legislative fights to get bills passed by both chambers and sent to the Governor for signature.

We expect continued debate on the following issues:

  • A-F Letter Grading of Schools
  • Prohibition of Bargaining on Union Release Time
  • Other attacks on the freedom of workers to join together in unions

We need everyone to join our fight in defense of our freedoms and our values – please click here to sign up to be an Education Activist — we’ll provide you with more information about emailing, calling, and meeting with your legislators to stand up for Public Education and workers.

Click here to sign up to fight for our values in the Lame Duck session.

Senate passes Union Release Time, House Committee Hears Testimony on the Bills

The Michigan Senate voted last week on bills to prohibit the rights of local schools and municipalities to bargain with their public employee unions to include in contracts “union release time” — which is used to ensure workers have a voice on the job and improve our schools and communities. Concerning AFT Michigan locals, HB 6474 and HB 5368 (SB 796 and 795 in the Senate) would:

  • Prohibit local school districts, community colleges, universities, and unions from jointly negotiating to include paid union release time in collective bargaining agreements
  • Prohibit the union from paying into MPSERS for employees on union release time or for those employees to get retirement service credits for time on release.

Please write an email to your state representative NOW and ask them to oppose these bills.

While this is a blatant attack on our unions, legislators must understand that students and schools are also going to suffer if educators aren’t able to be involved in important decision making. Please emphasize in your emails and conversations with legislators that union release time is about improving the school environment and resolving issues as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Senate Advances Bills to Gut Minimum Wage, Earned Paid Sick Time Laws

After hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents signed petitions in support of an increased minimum wage and the ability to accrue earned paid sick time, under the behest of corporate interests, Republicans in the Michigan Legislature are working to gut these citizen-initiated laws. SB 1175 will make enforcement of the paid leave law nearly impossible by restructuring employer reporting among other things, in additional to lowering the hours from 72 accrued per year down to 36. SB 1171 will change the currently scheduled rate of increase to the state’s minimum wage law, instead of reaching $12 per hour by 2022, the increases will be much smaller and not equal $12 per hour until 2030. The current law requires minimum wage to grow be adjusted for inflation based based on the consumer price index, but SB 1171 would remove that provision. The bill will also lower tipped workers hourly wage. The wage will now be increased from $3.52 to $4.00 over the next 12 years, increasing $0.04 every Jan. 1.

Republican Legislators Introduce Legislation to Limit Powers of Democratic Attorney General and Secretary of State
HB 6553 would allow the Republican Majority House and Republican Majority Senate to intervene, and defend the state in any lawsuit suing the state, allowing them to circumvent the Attorney General and Governor who are constitutionally responsible in such cases. Additionally, SB 1248-1252 would strip the Secretary of State of her campaign finance and election administration responsibilities, instead running them through a board appointed by the governor based off of lists submitted by Republican and Democratic groups.
 
Bills to Allow Public “Innovation Districts” Move Out of House Education Reform Committee
HB 6314 and 6315 were approved by committee and were sent to the House floor, which would allow the board of a school district to apply to the superintendent of public instruction for permission to operate as a public innovative district or for a school in the district to operate as a public innovative school, and would exempt such districts or schools from many state requirements, including seat time, curriculum requirements, and teacher certification for extended learning. These bills also include a provision for “private instruction” funding, which would allow cafeteria-style voices for private school programs.
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