Opinion: Michigan educators look to state Supreme Court for justice

Friday, 10 November 2017, 08:06:30 AM. The Michigan Supreme Court this week will hear arguments on the state's move to withhold 3% of school employee wages for retiree health care.
How would you feel if your employer illegally withheld thousands of dollars from your paycheck — and then refused to return it for years, even in the face of multiple court rulings saying they should do so?   Chances are, you’ve never heard of the “3 percent case” – the real-life version of that hypothetical situation.   But, mention it to a public education employee and watch them seethe. In 2010, the Michigan Legislature enacted Public Act 75, requiring school districts and some higher education institutions to withhold 3% of each school employee’s wages to help fund health care benefits for retirees — even though there was no guarantee employees who gave up those wages would receive benefits. Our unions – the American Federation of Teachers Michigan and the Michigan Education Association –  filed suit in the Michigan Court of Claims challenging the constitutionality of PA 75.  The court ordered the withheld wages – now totaling more than $550 million – to be placed in escrow until the legal challenges were resolved.    After the lower court ruled in our favor, the state appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals, which ruled that PA 75 violated multiple constitutional rights in both the U.S. and Michigan constitutions. Specifically, the court concluded that the statute violated federal and state constitutional protections against the taking of private property by the government without compensation; impairment of contracts; and the guarantee of substantive due process. The...Read more
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