The problems posed by the MEA/MESSA relationship are testimony to the fact that the MEA
dominates public education at both the state and school district level. The balance of
power has clearly shifted to the point where school districts find themselves at a severe
disadvantage in instituting sound labor agreements without a prolonged and disruptive
strike. The following policies would create a more responsible environment for public
1. Exempt public school teachers from the Public Employment Relations Act (PERA).
Since 1966, school districts have been forced through the PERA to bargain insurance
benefits and other terms and conditions of employment with the MEA's affiliates. School
districts should be able to deal freely and directly with their employees without the
state-sanctioned pressure of the MEA. Teachers should be allowed to join a union, but not
be forced into membership or support. This would help restore a more equal and responsible
relationship between school districts and their employees.
2. At the very least, amend PERA to exempt insurance and benefits as mandatory
topics of bargaining.
If legislators are unable to exempt public school teachers completely, they should at
least exempt insurance and benefits from mandatory collective bargaining. School districts
would still be required to bargain wages and other conditions of employment, but they
would have more freedom to select insurance providers based on cost and merit, not
3. Require school districts to competitively bid insurance providers, and have those
providers supply claims information.
Although this is less desirable than the first two recommendations, a state law that
requires school - districts to competitively bid insurance providers would help prevent
abuse of state-sanctioned mandatory collective bargaining. Such a law should include
requirements that the provider or underwriter provide a complete claims history.