Michigan Teachers Will Finally Get Their Money Back
Between 2010 and 2013, Michigan teachers and other school administrators were forced to contribute three percent of their salaries toward their retirement health care. A legal battle ensued seven years ago, and an order issued by the Michigan Supreme Court this month will ensure they get their money back.
The Michigan Supreme Court upheld the decision of the lower court and confirmed that the money had been taken from the teacher’s pockets unconstitutionally. In 2012, a new law had passed, but it did not account for the money taken prior.
“Because 2010 Public Act 75 is unconstitutional, the funds collected pursuant to that act before the effective date of 2012 Public Act 300 must be refunded to the plaintiffs in accordance with the Court of Appeals judgment,” wrote the court.
Governor Rick Snyder had pursued the case despite the fact that Attorney General Bill Schuette had initially dropped it. He said in a statement, “This law dates back to 2010, and I am pleased that taxpayers will have a resolution. The funding has been held in escrow, so Michigan will continue to have a balanced budget. We will not need to raise new revenue or remove funding from other priorities to refund the money that was collected for retirement health care”
Education groups including the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Michigan and the Michigan Education Association (MEA) were among those who brought suit against the state. “In a unanimous order issued today, the Michigan Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Michigan Court of Appeals directing that 3% deducted from pay of Michigan public school employees be refunded to the teachers,” said the AFT in a statement. “The Court agreed that the involuntary taking of the money impaired the contracts that set employee wages. The Court directed that the monies taken be refunded to the employees. That process will begin in 2018 and will be carefully reviewed by AFT Michigan.”
MEA President Paula Herbart said, “I cannot imagine a better pre-holiday gift to Michigan’s school employees than getting their hard-earned money returned to them. This is the culmination of years of work by both AFT Michigan and MEA on behalf of our members. This reinforces why being a member of a union matters – working collectively, we won this case that no individual could have fought for themselves.”
Progressive advocacy group Progress Michigan also chimed in. “Elected officials like Rick Snyder, Brian Calley, and Bill Schuette have tormented teachers for too long with these games in court,” said its executive director, Lonnie Scott. “Today, educators took back the pay that was rightfully theirs and we applaud them for sticking it out for so long and standing up for their rights. The Snyder administration wasted time and resources trying to take money away from teachers and Bill Schuette backed the efforts until the case was on death’s doorstep at the Supreme Court. This case is another example of how at the highest level of Republican leadership in this state there is an assault on public education.”