Executive Board Elections

May 4, 2013

It’s almost time for our annual spring general membership meeting. We will once again recognize our PEA Teacher of the Year, as well as honor our board members who have served us during this very trying school year.

The most important business item is the elections. Protecting member’s rights and standing up for members who need help is a big job, but the work is made easier when many members are willing to help.

The president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer all receive a stipend to pay back, in a small way, the hours of work donated on our behalf. These positions also have their local, state and national dues paid by the PEA. Other executive board positions also pay a stipend.

The following positions are on the ballot for 2013:

President – a one-year term

Vice-President – one-year term

Treasurer – a two-year term

KCEA Representative – two-year term

MABO Representative – two-year term

No experience is necessary for any of these positions. However, the MEA provides a summer leadership training that is an excellent way to learn the skills needed for effectively leading a group of your peers.

If you are interested in being placed on the ballot, or know of someone you feel is a good candidate for a position, please send your name (or the name of another member) to Liz. H. as soon as possible.

 

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March PEA Update

March 16, 2013

ouelette10Congratulations to Lisa Ouelette, who has been named as Parchment’s Teacher of the Year. Lisa will be recognized at an upcoming school board meeting, and at the KCEA Partners in Education dinner in April. Click HERE to read Lisa’s nomination letter.

The negotiations team will meet Monday, March 18 to discuss our next steps in the bargaining process. We still have two weeks to extend the contract before “right to work” legislation becomes law. The team will inform you of our plans after Monday’s meeting.

The PEA executive board will meet Thursday, March 21. Board members should receive agendas in the next couple of days. There is important business (upcoming local elections, 13-14 budget, negotiations, etc.) to conduct. We will also have reports from recent KCEA and MEA Region V meetings.

March is National Literacy Month, and from the looks of our K-5 halls and classrooms, Dr. Seuss continues to be a big hit with the students (and their teachers). Share with PEA what you have done to “celebrate” literacy this month.

At the February MEA Bargaining and Public Relations Conference, there was much talk of local associations improving relationships with their board of education and community. In the past, we have asked you to participate in parades, Kindleberger Festival activities, etc. We are hoping to find new ways to engage you with the families you serve. Look here for updates on this exciting new phase of association activity.

If you (or someone you know) has been awarded a grant, a scholarship, an honor or recognition — let us know. We would like to use this site to celebrate the great things we are accomplishing.


Three Important Dates

February 28, 2013

1. Teacher of the Year nominations due Monday, March 4 (to your building rep)
2. MEA On-line voting March 1st at https://www.mymea.org/onlinevoting/
3. Contract ratification meeting March 7, 4:00 middle school


February PEA Update

February 16, 2013

We’ve made it past the half-way point of the 2012-2013 school year. We’ve weathered snow and the Michigan Legislature. Now we look forward to finishing this year strong, united, and confident in our skills as educators.

Some news, in chronological order:

1. There is a pre-retirement seminar being held February 23, from 9:30 a.m. – noon. Details are available by clicking this link: RetirementPoster 9F 2-2013. You must RSVP by Wednesday, Feb. 20.

2. On-line voting for MEA Board Members begins March 1st. Follow this link to vote between 3/1 and 3/8 — you decide who makes decisions for the MEA. (You will need the last four digits of your social security number to log in.) A reminder of the voting “window” will be sent out prior to the voting period.

3. The 2013 Partners in Education Dinner celebrates local educators and support personnel who make a difference for kids and for colleagues through work with their local association. You will be asked to write a nomination letter for someone in your building who deserves this recognition. Details will follow, but put the date of the dinner on your calendar (in case you or your nominee is the Parchment honoree this year). May 5, 2013 at the Fetzer Center (WMU).

If you did not receive bargaining information in your home e-mail messages (last Friday), please send your home e-mail address so you can be included. Please know that your bargaining team will negotiate for the best benefits possible, with the least painful concessions possible. We ask for improvements — the other side asks for concessions — and we decide what you can support in a contract vote.


Only in Lansing

December 19, 2012

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Association Update

October 31, 2012

1. The local MEA office is seeking volunteers to make phone calls Sunday afternoon. If you believe in Proposal Two (and fear the consequences of failure), consider giving a little of your time to call people identified as YES voters (they will be less likely to hang up on you or worse). If you are interested, reply and I’ll provide more details (the where and when).

2. The administration met with three of us to review the new online evaluation website. We still have many unanswered questions regarding evaluations this year, but the form used last year with five major categories and, under each one, several sub-categories will be essentially the same — just online instead of on paper. The observation “checklist” seems to be more aligned with the categories on the eval. form, unlike the E-Cove observation form that had many confusing categories that were not on the actual evaluation. We still don’t know things like . . . how many observations will we have, how long will the principal observe, how many goals we have to have, how we can use data to demonstrate student “growth”, etc. When we get the answers, you will know.

3. The PEA Executive Board sent a questionnaire to all sitting school board members, along with the two candidates. So far, only the two candidates have responded. Their answers will be provided at our next PEA meeting.

4. Vote. Did I mention that you should vote next week? Well, vote.

5. Do you know what “right to work” means? It means that no one has to join a union. At first, that might sound good. Think of all the things you can do with the dues money you won’t pay. However, once enough people choose not to join, the union can’t afford to stay in business. Once the union is gone, the contract is gone. They can pay you what they want to. They can require you to do whatever they want to. They can change anything you are used to — from class size, to the workday, to the number of nights you must report to work. EVERYTHING in our contract is GONE when our association is gone. Dues are high, but in the long run, well worth it. Did I mention that your insurance is a subsidiary of MEA? When MEA is gone, MESSA goes too.

6. Vote.

7. The administration has a new contract form for us to sign. The old contract was one page. The new one is three pages. It contains things that sound really bad to me — I need to have MEA check it out. The new form was created by the Thrun Law Firm and is intended to comply with all new state laws. I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to “over reach” in a couple of areas. You won’t see the new form for at least a week or two, and I hope to get some clarity before you are asked to sign it.

8. I met with other county association reps and administrators last week, to approve the “more common” calendar for next year, and review calendars for the next six years. We (PEA) really need someone who works at the K-5 level to join the negotiations team to give the elementary perspective on everything from calendar issues to class size. Please consider joining our team for next spring’s bargaining. NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY. We were all “first timers” once.

9. You have probably heard this already, but just in case . . . The Office of Retirement Services (ORS) is still taking retirement elections. If you made your choices by last Friday’s deadline, you can change your mind. If you didn’t choose, you still can. Until a court rules on the temporary restraining order against the deadline, the ORS site will be open. I haven’t heard if Parchment met its quota and got the $1000 bonus. I also haven’t heard what they’re going to do with the money!

As always, thanks for doing the great jobs you do with our students. Let me know if you have any questions about the above items or other contract issues. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to vote!


Elections 2012

October 13, 2012

You are probably pretty tired of hearing about the upcoming election. I don’t blame you. Between the steady stream of TV commercials urging yes or no votes and the telephone “robo” calls, it seems we can’t escape the issues.

Can we, however, fully understand the issues?

This is what we know as educators:

  • Our jobs have gotten increasingly more difficult in the last two years. The Michigan legilature has passed over 600 different bills that impact our students, our evaluations, our pensions and insurance, and our district’s funding.
  • Proposal Two is the biggest ballot issue for Michigan’s teachers. If you have been teaching for five or more years, you have gotten used to the provisions of our contract. And, you have noticed that some things in that contract disappeared last year. Why? Because the legislators decided they knew our needs better than we did.
  • Everything in your contract was placed there after both sides — teachers and administrators — negotiated together to arrive at an agreeable compromise. Both sides knew the community, the students, the local issues, and what was best for Parchment. Now, Lansing thinks they know what is best for us.

Proposal Two restores our right to bargain things locally — without interference from Lansing.

I hope you are planning to vote YES on Proposal Two, and encourage your spouse, child, parent, cousin, sibling — even neighbor — to also vote yes.

The Kalamazoo County Education Association has endorsed local candidates. These are individuals who have responded to requests for “screening” and have given education-friendly positions. We feel that they will support us in our increasingly difficult jobs if they are elected. These are Kalamazoo County positions only.

U.S. 6th Congressional — Mike O’Brien (not endorsed by MEA)
60th House Seat–  Sean McCann
63rd House Seat –Bill Farmer
Kalamazoo CountyProsecuting Attorney —  Jeffrey S. Getting
Kalamazoo County Clerk  & Register of Deeds–  Brian Johnson
Kalamazoo County Treasurer  —  Grace Borgfjord

Kalamazoo County Commission
District #2   —     Dave Buskirk
District #4   —     Michael Seals
District #5   —     Julie Rogers
District #6   —     Tom Novak
District #7   —     Leroy Crabtree
District #9   —     Robert Kildea

Local School Board

Gull Lake  —   Lin Marklin

The Michigan Education Association PAC has endorsed the following state and national candidates:

President  —  Barack Obama

Michigan Supreme Court —  Connie Marie Kelley, Bridget Mary McCormack, Shelia Johnson

State Board of Education  —   Michelle Fecteau, Lupes Ramos-Montigny

MSU Board of Trustees  —  Joel Ferguson, Brian Mosallan

U of M Board of Regents  —   Mark Bernstein, Shauna Ryder Diggs

WSU Board of Governors  —  Sandra Hughes O’Brien, Kim Trent

U.S. Senate  –Debbie Stabenow

U.S. House (some endorsed candidates are outside our area)

Gary McDowell
Steve Pestka
Dan Kildee
Sander Levin
David Curson
Syed Taj
John Dingell
John Conyers, Jr.
Gary Peters

STATE HOUSE CANDIDATES (this is a partial list of nearby districts — Click this link to find which House District you live in)

62nd House District – Kate Segal
63rd House District – William Farmer
66th House District – Richard (Dick) Rajkovich
70th House District  – Mike Huckleberry
71st House District – Theresa Abed
74th House District – Rob VerHeulen
76th House District – Winnie Brinks
87th House District – Mike Callton

MEA Recommendations on the Ballot Proposals

Proposal One (emergency manager)   —  NO

Proposal Two (collective bargaining)  — YES

Proposal Three (affordable home care)   — YES

Proposal Four (clean energy)  — YES

Proposal Five (2/3 supermajority)  — NO

Proposal Six (bridge)  — (no position)

I have 10 Yes on Prop Two yards signs. The first ten PEA members to e-mail a request can have them. Let me know ASAP!


Local Meeting on Pension Law Changes

August 30, 2012

Informational Session on Senate Bill 1040

MEA Financial Services Senate Bill 1040 Meetings will provide information about:

  • How Senate Bill 1040 will affect you
  • How to navigate Senate Bill 1040
  • Your pension options
  • The Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System

Please Join us for an Informational Session with one of the Regional Managers from MEA Financial Services

Date: September 18, 2012
Time: 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Location: MEA Office – Kalamazoo
5600 Portage Rd., Kalamazoo 49002
To register: Call 269/344-7428

Presenter:

Bruce Reaume– Northern and Southern Zones President & Registered Principal, Paradigm Equities, Inc.
Western Regional Manager, MEA Financial Services

 

This is what the Office of Retirement Services is telling folks regarding SB1040:

The Michigan legislature has given final approval to SB 1040 which reforms the Michigan Public School Employees’ Retirement System. The next step is for Governor Snyder to sign the bill, which is expected to happen on Tuesday, September 4.

miAccount is currently under construction. miAccount will have limited functionality until Governor Snyder signs SB 1040 into law. We’re creating your personalized estimates, information and tools including FAQs and calculators, and the step-by-step process you’ll use to make your elections. Once the bill is signed, make sure to log in right away and get the information you need to make your elections.

Despite the current limited miAccount functionality, you can still access the Legislative Summary of SB 1040 and a link to the Michigan Legislature website with full bill information in miAccount.

If you’re not registered in miAccount, take a few minutes to register today.

Summary of Senate Bill 1040 (2012)

Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System Reform

image image Department of Technology. Management & Budget

This summary highlights changes to the Public School Employees Retirement Act (P.A. 300 of 1980, as amended) outlined in Senate Bill 1040 of 2012, and passed by the Michigan legislature on August 15,2012. The next step is for Governor Snyder to consider the bill for signature.

Summary and Election Window

The legislation grants all active members of the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System, who earned service credit in the 12 months ending September 3,2012, or were on an approved professional services or military leave of absence on September 3,2012, a voluntary election regarding their retirement healthcare. Active members who first became a member before July 1,2010, are also granted a voluntary election regarding their pension.

Any changes to a member’s healthcare benefit and, if applicable, pension, would be effective as of the member’s transition date, which is defined as the first day of the pay period that begins on or after December 1,2012.

DEADLINE: All elections must be made in miAccount beginning Tuesday, September 4,2012, and no later than 5:00 p.m. EDT, Friday, October 26,2012. Changes to any election must be made in miAccount before the election deadline.

The legislation also establishes benefits for employees who first work on or after September 4, 2012, directs changes to the rates that public schools contribute to the retirement system, and orders several plan- and benefit-related studies.

Retirement Healthcare Election

Members can choose to continue contributing 3 percent of their compensation to the Retiree Healthcare Fund and keep the premium subsidy benefit, or they can choose not to pay the 3 percent contribution and instead choose the Personal Healthcare Fund, which can be used to pay healthcare expenses in retirement.

  • Premium Subsidy: Members who voluntarily elect this option will continue to contribute 3 percent of their compensation to the Retiree Healthcare Fund and will retain eligibility for the retiree health insurance premium subsidy offered by the state upon their retirement. The subsidy for members who first worked before July 1,2008, is the maximum subsidy allowed by statute. The subsidy for members who first worked on or after July 1,2008, is a graded premium subsidy based on career length where members accrue credit towards their insurance premiums in retirement, not to exceed the maximum subsidy allowed by statute. The legislation sets the maximum subsidy at 80 percent beginning January 1,2013 (90 percent for those Medicare eligible and enrolled in the insurances on that date).
  • Personal Healthcare Fund: Members who voluntarily elect this option will establish a portable, tax-deferred fund that can be used for paying healthcare expenses in retirement. They will opt-out of the premium subsidy benefit, effective as of their transition date, and they will be automatically enrolled in a 2 percent employee contribution into their 457 account as of their transition date, earning them a 2 percent employer match into a 401 (k) account. Members who select this option will stop paying the 3 percent Retiree Healthcare Fund contribution as of their transition date, and their prior contributions will be deposited into their 401 (k) account on or before February 1, 2013.

Members who do not make an election before the deadline will continue to make the 3 percent Retiree Healthcare Fund contribution and will retain their premium subsidy benefit.

Former members who made contributions to the Retiree Health Care Fund but do not qualify for a retiree healthcare subsidy can request a refund of their contributions from ORS upon reaching age 60 or older. The refund will be paid in equal monthly installments over a 60 month (5-year) period as a supplemental retirement allowance.

Deferred or nonvested members on September 3, 2012 who are rehired on or after September 4,2012, will contribute 3 percent to the Retiree Health Care Fund and will retain the premium subsidy benefit. Returning members who made the retirement healthcare election will retain whichever option they chose.

Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System – Reform

Members who first worked before July 1, 2010, and who earned service credit in the 12 months ending September 3, 2012, or were on an approved professional services or military leave of absence on September 3, 2012, can voluntarily choose to increase, maintain, or stop their contributions to the pension fund. They are provided with the following options:

• Option 1: Members selecting Option 1 voluntarily elect to increase their contributions to the pension fund as noted
below, and retain the 1.5 percent pension factor in their pension formula. The increased contribution would begin
as of their transition date and continue until they terminate public school employment.

  • Basic Plan members: 4 percent contribution (currently 0 percent)
  • MIP-Fixed, MIP-Graded, and MIP-Plus members: a flat 7 percent contribution (currently 3.9 percent for MIP-Fixed, up to 4.3 percent for MIP-Graded, or up to 6.4 percent for MIP-Plus).
    • Option 2: Members selecting Option 2 voluntarily elect to increase their contribution to the pension fund as stated in Option 1 and retain the 1.5 percent pension factor in their pension formula. The increased contribution would begin as of their transition date and continue until they reach 30 years of service. If and when they reach 30 years of service, their contribution rates will return to the previous level in place before their transition date (0 percent for Basic Plan members, 3.9 percent for MIP-Fixed, up to 4.3 percent for MIP-Graded, or up to 6.4 percent for MIP-Plus). The pension formula for any service thereafter would include a 1.25 percent pension factor.
    • Option 3: Members selecting Option 3 voluntarily elect not to increase their contribution to the pension fund and maintain their current level of contribution to the pension fund. The pension formula for their years of service before their transition date will include a 1.5 percent pension factor. The pension formula for any service thereafter will include a 1.25 percent pension factor.
    • Option 4: Members selecting Option 4 voluntarily elect to no longer contribute to the pension fund. Their pension will be calculated based on their years of service and final average compensation as of their transition date, and a 1.5 percent pension factor. They will be switched to a Defined Contribution (DC) plan on their transition date, where they will receive a 4 percent employer contribution to a tax-deferred 401 (k) account and can choose to contribute up to the maximum amounts permitted by the IRS to their 457 account.

    Members who do not make an election before the deadline will maintain their current level of contribution to the pension fund. The pension formula for their years of service up to their transition date will include a 1.5 percent pension factor. The pension formula for any service thereafter will include a 1.25 percent pension factor.

    Deferred or nonvested public school employees on September 3, 2012, who return to public school employment on or after September 4, 2012, will maintain their previous level of contribution to the pension fund. The pension formula for their years of service up to their transition date, will include a 1.5 percent pension factor. The pension formula for any service thereafter would include a 1.25 percent pension factor. Returning members who made the retirement plan election will retain whichever option they chose.

    Benefits for New Hires  The state will no longer offer an insurance premium subsidy in retirement for public school employees who first work on or after September 4, 2012. All new employees will be placed into the Personal Healthcare Fund where they will have support saving for retirement healthcare costs in the following ways:

    • They will be automatically enrolled in a 2 percent employee contribution into a 457 account as of their date of hire, earning them a 2 percent employer match into a 401 (k) account.
    • They will receive a credit into a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) at termination if they have at least 10 years of service at termination. The credit will be $2,000 for participants who are at least 60 years of age at termination or $1,000 for participants who are less than 60 years of age at termination.

    Employees hired on or after September 4, 2012, will be able to choose between two retirement plans: the existing
    Pension Plus plan, which is a hybrid plan that contains a pension component and a tax-deferred investment account
    that earns a 50 percent employer match on employee contributions of up to 1 percent of salary, or a Defined
    Contribution (DC) plan that provides a 50 percent employer match on employee contributions of up to 6 percent of
    salary. New employees will have 75 days from the date of their first pay period to make their election; if no election is
    made they will be placed in the Pension Plus plan. If they elect the DC plan, they will be automatically enrolled in a 6
    percent employee contribution to a tax-deferred, 457 plan retroactive to their date of hire, earning them a 3 percent
    employer match into a 401 (k) plan. 

    R1006C (August, 2012)


    CONTRACT SETTLED — VOTE TUESDAY!

    August 26, 2012

    A tentative agreement has been reached for the upcoming school year. In order for salary and step changes to be programmed for the Friday, August 31 payroll, we must vote (and ratify, of course) on Tuesday immediately following the “welcome back” breakfast. Please read over the settlement information, for there is a major change to the salary structure and steps, as well as changes to contract language regarding class size and tuition reimbursement.

    Tentative Agreement Details

    Messa ABCs 2012-2013


    Summer Update #2

    August 19, 2012

    1. The bargaining team has met three more times since the last update. We’ve agreed to the 2012-2013 calendar (see the district website). We’ve talked about contract language and financial matters, but have not yet reached agreement. The team bargains again Thursday, August 23rd.

    2. PEA Board members will meet with new PEA members (8 so far) on Monday, Aug. 27 for association information and lunch. We have had many changes in staff since last year.

    3. The general membership meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 28th at 3:30 in the middle school. This is our first (long) day back (starting with a 7:30 a.m. breakfast) — but please attend this meeting. Important information for the year will be presented, including insurance options coming up and other changes. If you cannot attend, please contact your building representative for an update.