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announcements

  • President Kay Walker-Telma

  • Education Leaders 2021

  • Senator Debbie Stabenow With MEA-Retired Members Jack & Jo Ellis

Federal COVID funding approved by Legislature – with many strings attached

Mar 08, 2021

MEA.ORG March 4, 2021
"This week, the Legislature has finally approved distribution of federal COVID relief funding passed by Congress in December – but not without adding new conditions to the funds and continuing political gamesmanship with the Governor over public health responses during the pandemic.

Without any negotiation with the Governor’s office, HB 4048 was amended and passed by both the House and Senate.  MEA has developed a listing of district-by-district estimated additional funding based on the provisions in this bill, which does the following:

  • Allocates $650 million from federal COVID relief (distributed to districts via the federal Title 1 formula designed to promote equity for districts with greater poverty) without any additional strings.
  • Another $840 million of those funds would be distributed (again via Title 1 formula) if the Governor signs HB 4049 (which would limit gubernatorial epidemic powers around school closure and athletics – this is the tie-bar MEA has previously opposed).
  • For districts that would get less than $450 per pupil from the above, another $136 million in state funds has been appropriated to increase per pupil funding to that level if the district offers at least 20 hours of in-person learning per week by March 22. (NOTE: MEA lobbyists are working to get a clear understanding about how this language impacts districts operating under hybrid schedules, which may not be known until we get an interpretation from the Michigan Department of Education.)

In addition, the bill allocates more than $150 million in funding for various remediation services, like summer programs, credit recovery programs, before- and after-school programs, additional summer school staffing funding, and reading/math benchmark assessments.  MEA is analyzing the bill to provide local associations more information about the uses and impacts of this funding.  However, one specific item MEA has been opposing throughout this process is a $10 million “voucher-style” program that would reimburse parents or legal guardians $50 per student for costs incurred by participation in summer or credit recovery programs – these funds should be added to resources for districts to provide needed services.

Next, these bills head to Gov. Whitmer for her consideration – MEA is working closely with the governor’s office as she balances the need for federal funds to be allocated with concerns about public health amidst the pandemic."

VALUE OF MICHIGAN PENSIONS

Feb 24, 2021

www.nirsonline.org/Pensionomics 2021 | Measuring the Economic Impact of DB Pension Expenditures

"A new report finds that economic gains attributable to private and public sector defined benefit (DB) pensions in the U.S. are substantial. Retiree spending of pension benefits in 2018 generated $1.3 trillion in total economic output, supporting nearly seven million jobs across the nation. Pension spending also added nearly $192 billion to government coffers at the federal, state and local levels."

Here is the economic impact of Michigan Pensions

A recent report from the National Institute on Retirement Security found the economic impact of defined benefit pensions support a significant amount of economic activity in the state of Michigan.  Pension benefits received by retirees are spent in the local community.  This spending ripples through the economy, as one person’s spending becomes another person’s income, creating a multiplier effect.  In 2018, expenditures stemming from State and local pensions in Michigan supported:

• 81,593 jobs that paid $4.2 billion in wages and salaries.

• $13.2 billion in total economic output.

• $2.1 billion in federal, State, and local tax revenue.

Each dollar paid out in pension benefits supported $1.48 in total economic activity in Michigan.  Each dollar “invested” by Michigan taxpayers in these pension plans supported $5.62 in total economic activity in the State.

The average pension benefit received was $1,924 per month or $23,090 per year.  These modest benefits provide retired teachers, public safety personnel, State employees, and others who served the public during their working careers income to meet basic needs in retirement.  Between 1993 and 2018, 26.35 percent of Michigan’s pension fund receipts came from employer contributions, 7.16 percent from employee contributions, and 66.49 percent from investment earnings.  Earnings on investments and employee contributions – not taxpayer based contributions – have historically made up the bulk of pension fund receipts."

MEA Retiree Helps Others Get Vaccinated

Feb 09, 2021

Because she’s 75 years old, retired educator Pam Kellar was able to get a COVID-19 vaccine quickly, yet most days she’s still on the phone and the internet trying to schedule appointments for shots.

For the past few weeks, Kellar – who is president of her MEA-Retired chapter in Warren – has taken it upon herself to help both active and retired educators from the area get hard-to-snare vaccination appointments.

The former elementary school teacher navigates three hospital systems and the Macomb County Health Department to snag in-demand slots for educators, who don’t have time to check online sites for appointments every 15 minutes or hold on the phone for hours every day.

The volunteer activity fills days of pandemic home isolation, she says: “I’m retired, and I don’t have anything to do, so I don’t mind listening to elevator music for two hours if it means more teachers can get vaccinated.”

Since the pandemic began, Kellar has only left her home four times, she said. The stress of the past year has made it hard to sleep, often waking her between 3 and 4 a.m. “One morning I woke up at 4:10, and I was able to schedule seven teachers,” she said.

She connects with educators who need shots through the Facebook pages of the Warren EA and the retired chapter she leads. “Some of the teachers I’ve scheduled I’ve never met,” she said.

The quest has become a fun competition between her and the current vice president of the Warren Education Association, Lisa Sikoski. “She and I are in a race to see who can register the most teachers. I’m at 30, and she’s at 27.”

Kellar began her volunteer effort when she was able to schedule an appointment for her daughter – who teaches in Chippewa Valley – after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that school employees would be eligible to receive vaccine beginning Jan. 11.

Since then, she made it her mission to learn the secrets of the health department (appointments open Tuesday mornings at 8:30 sharp); Ascension health system (online only, watch for the link to appear when appointments open); and Beaumont and Henry Ford systems (phone calls work best, and be prepared to wait).

Other participants in her circle include fellow MEA-Retired member Fern Cohen and Sue Trombley, president of the Warren Consolidated School Board. Between the four of them, Kellar estimates they have scheduled close to 70 teachers.

“Except for my neighbors, everyone I’ve made an appointment for has been a union member,” said Kellar, who finished a 38-year career in 2009. “I keep telling my friends that I need to retire from doing this, but we need to get teachers vaccinated ASAP. I want these people healthy and happy.”

On-Line Voting For Lifetime Members Starts February 8

Feb 01, 2021

REMINDER: Your vote makes a difference starting February 8

On February 8, 2021, MEA-Retired lifetime members will begin casting ballots for MEA-Retired delegates to the MEA Representative Assembly, the NEA Representative Assembly, and the NEA-Retired Annual Meeting, as well as Region Directors, if needed. 

Online voting begins at 8 a.m. EST February 8, 2021 and ends 4 p.m. EST February 19, 2021. 

Here’s how—You can use your own computer, your neighbor’s, your grandchildren’s or one at your local library. 

1. Go to the MEA website at mymea.org/onlinevoting

2. Follow the Login instructions: 

First Name  

(often your legal first name) 

Last Name 

Last four digits  

of your social security number 

3. Click the “Login” button. 

4. If your record is found and the polls are open, your ballot will be displayed. 

5. Select the candidates for which you wish to vote.  Clicking the “Additional Info” link next to a ballot item will allow you to read biographical information on the candidate if it has been submitted. 

6. Once you have made your selections, click the “Confirm Ballot” button. 

7. A preview of your ballot selections will be shown.  To modify any of your selections, click the “Modify Ballot” button. 

8. To cast your ballot, click the “Cast Ballot” button. Once your ballot is cast, you will see a confirmation page. 

9. Click the “Sign Out” link to log out of the system. 

If you have any problems using the MEA Online Voting application, contact the MEA IT Department at 517-337-5440 from 8 a.m.–4 p.m., Monday–Friday.  If you call after hours, please leave a voicemail, and your message will be returned as soon as possible. 

Blue Cross Blue Shield PHONE SCAM ALERT

Jan 28, 2021

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has shared the information below with ORS regarding a phone scam. Even though Blue Cross does not have the PPO pharmacy business, this does impact BCN members. Blue Cross has also posted an article on their blog. The ORS call center is aware of the scam in case we receive any questions. Please feel free to pass this information on to your members as you wish. Suspicious calls can be reported to Blue Cross's fraud hotline at 1-844-STOP-FWA (786-7392).

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are warning members of new phone scams in which callers attempt to obtain personal or health insurance information.

Since mid-December 2020, many members have reported receiving calls in which people attempt to obtain this information. The fraudulent callers claim they are from a pharmacy network representing Blue Cross or another health plan, and then they offer to mail over-the-counter vitamins, medicine and ointments to a member’s home at no cost.

These phone calls are not part of a Blue Cross or BCN program. They appear to be malicious or fraudulent attempts to gain personal information or health insurance ID numbers to bill for high-cost medication and supplies.

If members receive calls asking for personal and health insurance information, they should hang up immediately.


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