Local Union Leaves Michigan Education Association

'We simply want control of our money'

Clerical workers and classroom assistants at an intermediate school district headquartered in Cadillac have voted to decertify the Michigan Education Association local as their exclusive bargaining unit.

The 60 members of the Educational Support Personnel Association of the Wexford-Missaukee Intermediate School District will form their own independent union, according to the current president of the union local.

“This is not an anti-MEA decision,” said Deb Kasza, the president of the support personnel local, in an email. “We would like to have more autonomy and to keep our money to do things for our members and our community. We are proud to have accomplished this decision. ... We simply want control of our money.”

Kasza said her union has been negotiating its own contracts without the help of the MEA’s "Uniserv" director, which is the statewide union's collective bargaining arm.

The motivation to leave was to let local workers control their own money, Kasza said.

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She reported paying $53 a month under the current MEA contract, which is set to expire June 30. Kasza said she’d like to see dues lowered to an across-the-board rate of $40 per month.

“It will not be based on how many hours you work,” Kasza said. “We hope to have more folks join as it will be much more affordable.”

The local hopes to hold picnics and celebrations and wants to “support and improve the community,” Kasza said.

The Wexford-Missaukee ISD had an enrollment of 8,491 students in 2014.

“In my opinion, I don't believe that this vote was anti-MEA nor anti-union,” said Wexford-Missaukee Intermediate School District Superintendent Jeff Jennette in an email. “It was a vote to allow our staff to have similar protections, but also put more money in their pockets. The MEA did a nice job of representing them when it was needed, but the lack of salary increases due to tight budgets over the past couple of years forced this unit to explore their options."

The MEA didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

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See also:

MEA Still Chasing Thousands Not Paying Dues or Fees

Community College Secretaries Secede From the State's Largest Teachers Union

University Employees Break From MEA For Better Service At Lower Cost