Snyder has announced that he will appeal a recent decision ordering the state to return money illegally withheld from the paychecks of over 200,000 Michigan public school employees. The case, brought by MEA and AFT Michigan, sought the return of more than $550 million taken from school employee paychecks between 2010-2012. The money was supposed to help fund health care in retirement — even though there was no guarantee that employees would receive that benefit.
This suit against the state started five years ago. The state initially lost in trial court. It appealed to the Court of Appeals. The state lost again. Both of those courts agreed that withholding 3 percent of school employee wages violated state and federal constitutional protections of preserving private property and due process. The state then asked the Michigan Supreme Court to hear the case. Instead, after a two year wait, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the Court of Appeals, which issued the most recent decision in favor of school employees in early June.
This latest appeal is especially appalling given the state lost a similar case brought by state employee unions on behalf of their members. Those workers were refunded their illegally held wages — four years ago — while school employees are still waiting for their hard-earned money.
While the governor hasn’t been kind to state employees, he seems to have particular animus for school employees. After five years of litigation and defeats in three separate court decisions, the governor’s appeal of this case is not only misguided, but mean-spirited.
Read the full essay by Steven Cook here: