MPSERS election window still open

If you've already selected your retirement options with the Office of Retirement (ORS), you can make changes to your elections, according to the ORS website today. The election period deadline for MPSERS members to make their retirement choices came and went at 5 p.m. last Friday. The Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued against the state and its enforcement of the Oct. 26 deadline remains in effect until the Supreme Court acts on the Attorney General's Emergency Motion for Stay.

The Court will have to issue a new deadline and that could come at any time. There may be no advance warning, so be prepared. If you've already made your choices, you can log in to your miAccount to review them. If you're still deciding, go to the ORS website to learn more about the options. Seek advice from your financial planner. If you don't have one, contact MEA Financial Services (800-292-1950) for advice about the best option for you. Once you're sure of your choices, make your retirement elections.

Go to www.mea.org/retirement to keep updated on the latest news and information.

TRO still in place delaying Oct. 26 deadline

Today was the deadline set by the Legislature for school employees to make their decisions regarding what retirement options or retiree health benefits they want. So far, there’s been no decision from the Supreme Court, so the temporary restraining order (TRO) preventing the ending of the election period remains in effect.

If you’ve already made your choices, the TRO allows you to change those elections while the election period remains open and gives you the opportunity to rescind or change them if PA 300 is found to be unconstitutional.

The Michigan Office of Retirement website has also changed its message to read, “The court has issued two temporary restraining orders. The practical effect of these orders is that the window remains open until the courts take action.”

Things could change quickly. Be prepared. First, make sure you have an miAccount number. Go to www.michigan.gov/ors to set up your account if you don’t already have one.

Keep connected to www.mea.org/retirement for the latest news and information.

MPSERS election deadline this Friday, despite restraining order

Members have until 5 p.m. this Friday--Oct. 26--to make their decision regarding what retirement options or retiree health benefits they want. Right now, even though a temporary restraining order (TRO) is in place pushing back the deadline for MPSERS members, MEA is recommending members still make their choices by the Oct. 26 deadline because the Michigan Supreme Court is still considering whether the Oct. 26 deadline will apply.

In her ruling on the TRO, Michigan Court of Claims Judge Rosemary Aquilina stated that any choices members made could be rescinded or changed if the law is found to be unconstitutional. It's now up to the Supreme Court to decide the deadline.

Remember that in order to even be eligible to make a retirement choice, you must have an miAccount number. Go to www.michigan.gov/ors to set up your account.

MEA will keep you updated on any court decisions. Go to www.mea.org/retirement for the latest news and information.

Proposal 2--it's in everyone's best interest

Critics of Proposal 2--like Citizens Protecting Michigan Taxpayers--haven't let up with their fear-mongering ads. Funded by shadowy corporate front groups, they continue to paint a distorted picture of collective bargaining, unions and teachers with their lies and misinformation. Even Gov. Snyder has abandoned Michigan's working families in a desperate attempt to stop Proposal 2.

But the Governor and these so-called citizen-protection groups obviously don't really care about Michigan's future. If they did, they would realize that collective bargaining provides decent wages for Michigan workers so they can keep citizens safe, students educated and the economy growing. Everyone benefits from collective bargaining.

The new Protect Working Families video,"Firefighter Time", shows how collective bargaining benefits every Michigan citizen. The video clearly explains that firefighters need collective bargaining to make sure they have the necessary equipment and training to save lives. Collective bargaining protects firefighters--and that benefits everyone.

Nurses need collective bargaining to make sure they have the working conditions and training to provide the best care for patients. Lives depend on it. Collective bargaining protects nurses--and that benefits everyone.

SB 1040 ruling could come this week

MEA Voice Online
October 15, 2012

Subject: SB 1040 ruling could come this week

SB 1040 could see Court action this week

School groups weigh in on Proposal 2


Proposal 2--the constitutional amendment to protect collective bargaining rights and working families--lately has been the target of outrageous lies meant to scare voters into rejecting the proposal. The State Board of Education has joined the outrage over the latest ad by Protecting Michigan Taxpayers which completely misrepresents Proposal 2. 
After linking passage of Proposal 2 to an outbreak of teacher strikes like the one in Chicago, opponents are now falsely claiming that when Proposal 2 passes, employees with criminal backgrounds will have free reign in the classroom and school bus drivers will be endangering students since safety standards will be removed. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
Now, State Board of Education members are joining the Protect Working Families campaign in demanding the ad be pulled from the air.
John Austin, State Board of Education President, blasted the ad, “We entrust our teachers and school personnel with the care and education of our children every day. This ad repugnantly suggests our teachers would negotiate away the safety of school children. Those claims have no credibility.”

New charter schools open with no track record of success

This year, the Legislature allowed for the expansion of cyber and charter schools, despite concern from education experts that too many charter school management companies had questionable success records and were only out to make a profit. While the new law requires charters to meet academic goals, there’s no guarantee that the new schools will be operated by companies with proven academic records.

This fall, 31 new charter schools opened, with number 32 opening in January. This is the largest number of charter school openings since the late 1990s. A report by the Education Trust-Midwest showed that only 14 already had schools operating in Michigan and had a measurable track record.

Charter companies whose schools are in the top third of the state’s top-to-bottom ranking are considered “quality” by the Trust. Only eight out of the 14 operators in Michigan earned that rating.

If more than half of an operator’s schools were below the 33rd percentile in the top-to-bottom ranking, they were considered “struggling” and the companies were to improve the performance of the schools currently operating before opening any new ones. Among all the operators opening charter schools, only 22 of the 47 met the Trust’s criteria for quality.

Proposal 2 attack ads full of lies, misleading statements

Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution, the group who tried so hard to keep Proposal 2 off the ballot, has not given up. They have released another attack ad on the constitutional amendment to protect collective bargaining and working families that is full of lies and misleading statements. The ad is being bankrolled by corporate special interests who have poured more than $1 million on Proposal 2 attacks.

This time, they claim that if the proposal passes, teachers will strike as they did in Chicago, bus drivers will no longer have to pass safety standards, and pension and health care costs will rise. These unfounded claims are meant to scare and mislead voters.

Proposal 2 clearly states, "No existing or future law of the State. . .shall abridge, impair or limit the foregoing rights; provided that the State may prohibit or restrict strikes by employees of the State and its political subdivisions."

Cook: 'The purpose of Prop 2 is to restore--not extend union power.'

Critics of Proposal 2 to protect collective bargaining and middle class families may have lost their court challenges to keep the issue off the November ballot, but they haven't given up the fight. They're flooding the media with interviews and ads designed to scare people into voting NO on Proposal 2 with questionable and inflammatory information.

In their latest attempt to discredit Proposal 2, critics claim that passage of the amendment would mean school employees could strike and not face any fines if they did.

MEA President Cook dismisses the idea, "Proposal 2 has within it for the first time a constitutional prohibition on school employee strikes. The right of the Legislature to determine penalties for school employee strikes is untouched by Proposal 2."

Opponents have also falsely said that Proposal 2 would undo laws such as those requiring school bus drivers to receive safety training, protecting students from sexual predators, and requiring school districts to fire employees with criminal backgrounds.

Collective bargaining has a spot on the November ballot

This afternoon, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of collective bargaining rights and working families with their decision to allow the Protect Working Families proposal on the November ballot. Ballot language will now be written.

The Court rejected the challenges from special interest groups that the proposal failed to list the sections of the Constitution that would be affected. All along, the Protect Our Jobs campaign maintained that there was no legal basis for keeping the proposal off the ballot.

The Supreme Court also approved the ballot proposals requiring a two-thirds legislative majority or statewide vote to raise taxes and voter approval for a new international border crossing.