Linden reopener depends on MEA

FENTON, Mich. - Support staff employees in Linden Community Schools are willing to consider concessions as a way to protect jobs, but the Michigan Education Association will have final say on whether the local can reopen its contract, according to the (Fenton) Tri-County Times.

The district may lay off support staff due largely to a 13 percent increase in health insurance premiums and a mandated increase in retirement contributions, the Times reported. Anticipated spending in 2010-2011 is $2.3 million more than anticipated revenue when insurance, retirement, contractual pay increases, enrollment and a potential cut in per-pupil funding are factored in, according to the Times.

The Times article did not name the district's insurance provider, but the Mackinac Center for Public Policy's School Health Insurance database lists it as the Michigan Education Special Services Association. MESSA is a third-party insurance administrator affiliated with the MEA; it sells Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance packages to a majority of Michigan public school districts.

Lynn Brothers, president of the Linden Education Support Personnel, told the Times that the union would consider such concessions as reduced health care benefits and a one-year pay freeze in order to avoid the potential layoff of 16 of the union's 71 members.

The union is working with the MEA to reopen the contract, Brothers told the Times, which reported that the MEA has final say in the matter.

The Linden Education Association, which represents teachers, is currently negotiating a new contract with the district, the Times reported. The district recently laid off 19 LEA members. President Meg Walton told the Times that the state has not adequately funded public education, but that the situation could change and some teachers could be recalled.

Tri-County Times, "Linden schools — pink slips and more," May 12, 2010

Michigan Capitol Confidential, "Analysis: Michigan Senate GOP Fumble May Create $25.9 Billion Taxpayer Liability to Satisfy MEA," May 10, 2010