Pension Attack: Momentum Slows

Reblogged from MEAMatters.com

Due in large part to the many thousands of contacts made to legislators by school staffers, momentum to pass SB 102 has slowed. But this is lame duck, so this pressure must be maintained.

Some of the work being done throughout the state:

  • Sharing the district by district (both legislative and school district) cost sheet attached to a recent edition of Capitol Comments. Use your district’s school aid cut when you contact your legislator.
  • Share the same with your superintendent and school board members. Ask them to contact their legislators. The school management crowd has been very helpful in fighting this…they understand the school funding stakes very well and are conveying that to lawmakers.
  • Some parts of the state are planning action parties and open houses to bring members and parents together to help them contact legislators.
  • Elsewhere, before school walk-ins have been organized to leaflet parents to encourage them to get active. They soon understand that their school’s budget is at risk.
  • Everywhere members are using social media, sharing these posts and the posts of other supporters. Activity on the various MEAMatters platforms is at an all time high. This kind of leverage can generate massive notice and spreads the word to keep us all informed.

 Don't wait for someone else to fix this: take action!

Got an idea of your own? Share it here and with your UNSERV director.

And stay in touch. We can do this.

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New lame duck threat looming for School Aid Fund

Rebloggged from mea.org

While lobbying efforts need to continue on the threat to the school employee pension system, the latest GOP scheme to drain money from public education is taking shape in Lansing and may take up the remaining days of lame duck.

According to sources in Lansing, Republican leaders have agreed to a change in how tax refunds are paid—a decision that could cost the School Aid Fund more than $400 million, or approximately $273 per student. See how that cut could would affect your district in this MEA breakdown of the damage.

Right now, if you get a tax refund, it is paid from General Fund dollars. The School Aid Fund has been protected from being used for this purpose.The new plan uses a back-door way to drain SAF dollars to help pay for tax refunds. This is a way to raid the SAF and take money from our kids without it being obvious.

Why make this change? Just like when lawmakers started to pay for higher education out of the School Aid funds meant for K-12 schools, they want to tap into school funding to pay for other things. The GOP agenda of aggressive tax breaks has left the state cash-strapped and some lawmakers see the SAF as an attractive pot of money.

We must contact State Representatives and Senators and urge them to oppose this cash grab from our students. Lame duck isn’t the time to address tax policy, and lawmakers should not sneak through huge cuts to school funding.

See what the income tax raid would cost your district in this MEA breakdown of the damage.

Stay tuned to Capitol Comments and MEA’s Facebook page for updates on the ongoing legislative session.

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Call to Action – pension legislation update

Reblogged from MEAMatters.com

A message from your MEA lobbyists:

We have been informed by several sources that the calls and emails to state senators are working. Your communications blitz is also getting the attention of legislators in the House. Even if SB 102 passes the Senate, your calls and emails are helping us set up a firewall in the House.

Keep calling and emailing!

Remember-threats, yelling, and general abuse don’t help at all. As the old saying goes, “You get more flies with honey than vinegar.” That sentiment couldn’t be truer than when dealing with elected officials.

KEY POINTS TO MAKE IN YOUR COMMUNICATIONS WITH LAWMAKERS

  1. How will you pay for the financial hole that will be created if you move new hires to a DC plan?
    • Raise taxes?
    • General Fund cuts?
    • School Aid Fund cuts?
  2. If the answer is to cut the School Aid Fund, our schools can’t afford more cuts (and tell the story of effects from recent cuts or plug in budgetary numbers from below).
  3. Then you can point out that failing to fill the financial hole will destabilize the pension of current school employees and those already retired – and that’s not fair.

Your messages in calls and emails must follow this order. If you start with “You are taking away my pension,” or some version of that, lawmakers shut down and don’t listen because they believe they are only impacting new hires. You have to make the connection for them if you want to stop this from happening.

If the Legislature doesn’t accelerate the funding as they should, according to state budget analysts, there will be an average per pupil cut of $1,110 per student over the next five years. If you want exact numbers for cuts that would happen in your district, click here.

Join our Action Network letter writing campaign here.

And you can find contact information for your lawmakers here.

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I said Clinton was in trouble with the voters I represent. Democrats didn’t listen.

Reblogged from The Washington Post by Debbie Dingell

Debbie Dingell, a Democrat, represents Michigan’s 12th Congressional District in the House.

I was the crazy one. I predicted that Hillary Clinton was in trouble in Michigan during the Democratic primary. I observed that Donald Trump could win the Republican nomination for president. And at Rotary clubs, local chambers of commerce, union halls and mosques, I noted that we could see a Trump presidency. “That’s Debbie, it’s hyperbole, she is nuts.”

…The ordinary working man or woman in this country isn’t asking for a lot. They want to make a decent living. They want to be able to provide for their family, buy a home in a safe neighborhood, put food on the table, go the doctor when they need to, afford their medicines and educate their children.

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Labor Leaders Deserve Their Share of the Blame for Donald Trump’s Victory

Reblogged from Working In These Times

Donald Trump is going to be the next president of the United States. I feel a wild urge to scrub my hands with steel wool and bleach after typing those words—my fingers feel filthy.

If we want to avoid a similar nightmare in the future, we have to parse this election’s lessons and figure out who is to blame—not for cheap point-scoring, but to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes again. That means we have to talk about how American union leaders helped hand this race to Trump.

It wasn’t on purpose, of course. It’s no secret that a Trump presidency will be absolutely disastrous for labor. A national right-to-work law, Wisconsin’s viciously anti-union Gov. Scott Walker as Secretary of Labor, a pro-corporate National Labor Relations Board—all could be in the cards under Trump.

Union leaders wanted to prevent this. But their idea for how to do so wasn’t any different from the rest of the Democratic Party establishment: going all-in for a centrist, “safe” candidate like Hillary Clinton at a time when the electorate was hungry for someone who would shake up the political system and who spoke to the pain so many Americans feel.

Labor leaders should have been in touch with this sentiment better than anyone. Their members—whether school teachers in big cities or laid-off factory workers in the Rust Belt—have suffered immensely in the age of austerity. There were warning signs.

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