Michigan Education Association

Waterford school board president, district misinform public    

Decision to impose more expensive health plan raises questions

Waterford, Mich., Oct. 1, 2008 – The Waterford school district – through its Web site and in a letter mailed to local residents – isn’t giving the public an accurate accounting of a decision to force a new health plan on employees.

The district’s misinformation campaign doesn’t help local residents evaluate a Waterford Board of Education decision to abandon collective bargaining of health benefits and impose a new plan on 816 employees. Incredibly, the district’s plan costs at least $150,000 more than a plan proposed by the employees.

“The district’s decision doesn’t make sense,” said Troy Beasley, a teacher who serves as chairperson of the Waterford Coordinating Council, a group that represents employees who belong to four local unions. “Why isn’t the district telling the whole truth?”

On Sept. 18, the school board voted unanimously to implement the Waterford Health Plan effective Nov. 1. The plan is through Michigan Employee Benefit Services.

Employees offered to increase their out-of-pocket costs to keep insurance provided by Michigan Special Services Association (MESSA), a company known for exceptional customer service.

“It appears the district will do anything to get rid of MESSA insurance, including paying more for another plan,” said Marcy Felegy, an MEA UniServ director who works with Waterford employees. “Why? The public has a right to know why its elected school board would make such a foolish decision.”

Since the Sept. 18 decision, the district has provided misinformation and half-truths to the public.

On its Web site, the district posted a timeline of significant developments. In an overview of union offers, the district failed to note the savings that the employees’ plan would bring. The district also didn’t mention that its own health proposal regressed as bargaining continued, an obvious unfair labor practice.

In a letter to the community on Sept. 23, school board president James Larkin wrote about employee contract negotiations. His two-page letter claimed the Waterford Health Plan would help the district meet its “commitment for a balanced budget.”

“He didn’t tell community members that our offer would’ve saved more,” Beasley said. “The community needs to know that the school board decided to spend more to force its insurance plan on employees when that money could be better spent helping students.”

Contacts: Troy Beasley, Waterford Education Association president, and Marcy Felegy, MEA UniServ director, 248-666-9100

 

Updated: February 17, 2009 4:33 PM