Two important bills that would prevent some special union deals have passed the state Senate.
Senate Bill 279 would “prohibit public school districts and unions from adopting ‘release time’ arrangements in which a school employee who goes to work full time for a teachers union remains an employee of the district for purposes of collecting a government pension.” This came to light as a result of Michigan Capitol Confidential breaking several stories about the past three Michigan Education Association presidents entering special deals where they worked for a private union but continued to be officially “employed” and paid by school districts. This scheme allowed them to count their time and earnings with the MEA as credits toward their taxpayer-funded pension, artificially boosting their eventual payout compared to what it would have been based strictly on their time and pay actually working as public school employees.
Senate Bill 280 would “ban government employee union contracts that pay employees who are union officials for the time they spend on the job conducting union business (which they call ‘release time’).” Another Michigan Capitol Confidential investigation showed that public school districts are spending millions every year on local union officials who are released from their teaching duties in order to work on a full- or part-time basis for their respective union. Taxpayers pay for the costs of their salaries and benefits as well as those of the teacher who must replace these union officials and actually work in the classroom.
Both of these practices are a bad deal for taxpayers and unfair to public school students and employees. The bills were sponsored by Sen. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy, and co-sponsored by most of the Senate Republican caucus. The bills now head to the state House.
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