Teachers Pay as Union Chickens Come Home to Roost

Posted: Apr 14, 2011 12:01 AM

Several months ago, Education Action Group published a scathing exposé on the Wisconsin Education Association Council-affiliated WEA Trust, a union-contrived insurance entity that is forced upon the majority of Wisconsin schools during collective bargaining negotiations.

It is difficult to determine the extent to which the union benefits from this cozy arrangement, but judging by a similar set-up in Michigan, the union is likely doing very nicely.

In Michigan, the state’s largest teachers union (the Michigan Education Association) owns MESSA, a health insurance company used by the vast majority of public schools in the state.

MESSA has a reputation for being the Cadillac of insurance plans – and for good reason.

When one district successfully switched away from MESSA, it saved big bucks and teachers only lost coverage for “massages, sex-change operations and a treatment for Christian Science practitioners.”

Let that marinate for a moment.

According to the Kalamazoo Gazette, taxpayers were paying for massages and sex-change operations for teachers. Isn’t that grand?

As MESSA, which gives millions of dollars a year to the teachers union, continues to jack up rates each year, school districts have wisely capped how much they will pay for employee health insurance, allowing districts to control costs. If the union still demands its brand, the teachers end up paying the difference.

Well, the union’s chickens are coming home to roost.

Because their union leaders refuse to use a less-expensive health insurance company, some Michigan teachers are about to be socked with substantial health insurance costs. Consider this portion of an e-mail EAG received from an anonymous teacher in a small rural district:

"So I think that our stubborn union people will not open the contract up to change insurance to save some money. Looking at it next year, it will cost me out of my pocket about $6400. Which honestly, with everything I have to pay for, would kill me financially."

So because of a union power play at the bargaining table – and its insistence that members accept its own brand – teachers in this district will be paying $6,400 just so the union can keep the dollars flowing into MESSA’s coffers.

How are those dues dollars working out for you, Michigan teachers?

Unions are often criticized for putting their members’ interests above the needs of children. That’s true, but this e-mail reveals that the union puts its own financial interests ahead of the financial well-being of its members.

The only question is, what will teachers do about it? Will they continue to pay the dues and blame the evil taxpayers for not “putting up” or will they grab the union leaders by the nape of the neck and tell them to get real?