Adams support staff loses union coverage

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette Support staff members at Adams Township School District who have declined to pay union dues will lose health coverage following unpaid MEA dues.

ADAMS TOWNSHIP — School support staff are losing access to health insurance through the Michigan Education Special Services Association (MESSA) at the end of the month.

The situation began over an undisclosed number of Adams Township School District staff members not paying dues to the Michigan Education Association (MEA), which provides access to MESSA services.

The move impacts the support staff union, not the teaching union, and will be effective Oct. 1, said Superintendent Tim Keteri.

The district got word around the beginning of September and had to act promptly to get services for the six impacted employees.

The issue was raised earlier this month at a Copper Country Intermediate School District Board meeting.

“It was one of those things that happened very quickly,” Keteri said.

The move will have no cost for the district, but it could mean more cost for the employees, although that is still unknown at this point.

“The cost for the district is the same, because we pay a state cap, so the state cap doesn’t allow us to pay the premium. We can only pay so much toward the premium anyway,” Keteri explained.

Michigan is a “right to work” state which prohibits union collective bargaining agreements from requiring payment of union dues as a condition of employment for members of a union.

MEA spokesperson David Crim issued the following statement about the move.

“MEA membership provides school employees with many advantages, including access to quality health coverage through MESSA,” Crim said. “When a group of MEA members decides to stop paying dues and leave MEA, they no longer have access to the benefits of MEA membership, including MESSA coverage.

“No one would expect a gym to allow people who stop paying their dues to still come to the gym to work out. It’s simply not fair to the MEA members who pay their dues and keep the organization strong.”