LANSING — School employees from the American Federation of Teachers Michigan and the Michigan Education Association picketed outside Governor Rick Snyder’s office today, demanding that he stop wasting taxpayer money appealing court rulings that have found school employees are owed $550 million due to an unconstitutional law that took money from their paychecks.
“Michigan school employees like myself feel deeply disrespected by Gov. Snyder, and his efforts to deny school employees their hard-earned paychecks are a complete waste of taxpayer money,” said Reed Bretz, who is a high school teacher with Kenowa Hills High School outside of Grand Rapids and a member of the MEA.
Both a trial court and the Michigan Court of Appeals have struck down Public Act 75 of 2010 as unconstitutional. PA 75 mandated that all school employees contribute 3 percent of their salary through an involuntary payroll deduction to fund retiree health care — a benefit that they were not guaranteed to receive. The law was in place from 2010 to 2012, and more than $550 million was taken from 200,000 school employees during that time. The money is currently being held in an interest-bearing escrow account pending an outcome to the case, which has been appealed by the state three times already.
“I’m angry that Governor Snyder is standing between us and our hard-earned money,” said Patti McCoin, who is a middle school teacher at Clippert Academy in Detroit and a member of AFT Michigan. “We deserve better. We deserve respect and support from elected leaders like Rick Snyder. But instead, he continues adding to his long line of attacks on public school employees from his perch here in Lansing.”
July 19 is Snyder’s deadline to appeal the case to the Michigan Supreme Court, and he has stated publicly that he plans to do so. Attorney General Bill Schuette has declined to provide legal counsel if Snyder appeals.
“As a retiree on a fixed income, the 3 percent of my paychecks that was stolen from me is very important to my husband and I. Governor Snyder has treated school employees as political punching bags, and I urge him to give school employees our fair pay without delay,” said Cheryl Farver, who is a recently-retired social worker from Shiawassee RESAand a member of the MEA.
Last month, MEA and AFT Michigan delivered more than 33,000 petition signatures to the offices of Snyder and Schuette, urging them not to appeal the June 7 appeals court ruling.