F. The Relationship Involving MESSA and the MEA

The design of the MEA complex in East Lansing is an appropriate indication of the extent to which the MEA and its subsidiaries are involved, in each other's operations: all four corporate headquarters are connected by a skywalk. Perhaps an even more revealing indication occurred in March of 1993, when a MESSA receptionist greeted a phone call from the Detroit News by stating, "MEA ... er, MESSA."81 The simple fact of the matter is that the four corporations which comprise the "MEA Family," as the MEA calls it, are all interrelated in various ways. There is, of course, the underlying foundation of the interrelationship, namely that all four corporations are owned and administered by the MEA. Moreover, the operations of the four corporations are significantly integrated with one another and part of a systematic exchange of resources. Most importantly, the corporations are predominantly governed by and subordinate to the will of the MEA.

One of the first things the public must clearly understand about MESSA is that it is an extension of the MEA-devised by the MEA, owned by the MEA, and controlled by the MEA. This presents obvious concerns about the MEA's ability to influence the decisions and conduct of MESSA, because any imposition of the MEA's will over MESSA would inevitably have some effect on MESSA's interactions with its customer school districts. In the sense that the MEA is more concerned about maximizing benefits for its members and less concerned about minimizing costs for school districts, the consequence of MEA control over MESSA is most likely that school districts are shouldering a burden of excess costs because the MEA has actively sought greater benefit thresholds from MESSA. In general, the conduct of MESSA towards its customer school districts does have something to do with the MEA's involvement in MESSA, and this is having an impact on public education.

The best way to understand MESSA as an extension of the MEA is to examine the essential aspects of their relationship, which include their commercial affiliation, the degree of control maintained by the MEA, and the integration of their operations. After doing so, it is possible to reach a general conclusion about MESSA in relation to the MEA: MESSA is an agent of the MEA, and it is manipulated in the MEA's favor, with little regard for the consequences to Michigan's school districts.