Teachers don't have to rely on MEA for coverage
Under pressure because of the state's right-to-work law, the Michigan Education Association is working to better inform its members of some of the things they get for the money they pay in dues.
MEA members pay about $635 a year for the state portion of their dues and an additional amount for local and national dues, which amounts to an average of about $900 to $1,000 a year for most members.
The MEA recently highlighted one benefit, the $1 million in liability insurance it provides its teachers. The union pays $4.35 a year per member to offer that benefit. The MEA revealed the cost last week during an unfair labor practice hearing before the Michigan Employment Relations Commission.
The $1 million in liability coverage has been promoted on the MEA's website and further highlighted in numerous local MEA affiliate newsletters.
"That is one of the 'top shelf' benefits that they tout for being a member," said James Perialas, president of the Roscommon Teachers Association, an independent teachers union that was created in 2012 when teachers voted to decertify from the MEA and form a local union.
Perialas said the MEA doesn't come out and say it is the sole provider of liability insurance for teachers, but implies that it is.
"That is not only false, but is inherently misleading to teachers in the union. A teacher's primary line of defense is his/her school district. They all purchase a liability policy that covers employees," Perialas said. "Furthermore, many Roscommon teachers have purchased professional liability insurance through their homeowner's policy, for approximately $25 a year if they want additional coverage. If they are still not satisfied, the teacher-specific liability insurance can be had with membership in organizations like the Christian Educator's Association, or the Association of American Educators. I am a member of the AAE, and it also provides litigation insurance if I need a lawyer for a wrongful discharge. Michigan teachers need to do the math. What are these dues going to? I don't think the MEA would be in the predicament that they are in right now, if they were truthful and fair to their membership."