PONTIAC, Mich. – At the beginning of this year, there was concern that the Pontiac School District wouldn’t be able to afford toilet paper for the schools’ restrooms.
The district’s financial situation has only gotten shakier each subsequent month. Things are so bleak for the Pontiac district that Michigan officials may soon force the school board to choose between declaring bankruptcy and turning control over to the state, reports The Oakland Press.
But the district’s health insurance provider – MESSA, which is owned and operated by the Michigan Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union – couldn’t care less.
MLive.com reports that MESSA officials are demanding the district pay the $8 million it owes the insurance company for missed premium payments by July 31. If school doesn’t pay up, MESSA officials say they will cut off health insurance coverage for the district’s 350 teachers.
The unionists are making this heavy-handed demand despite a recent court ruling that allows the district to repay its MESSA debt over 10 years, notes Michigan Capitol Confidential.
Pontiac Education Association President (and MEA member) Aimee McKeever defended MESSA’s seemingly irrational demand.
“I don’t know of any other business in the business world that can just wipe their hands clean of an $8 million bill of money owed to them,” McKeever told MLive.com. “How many businesses would continue to provide goods and services if they haven’t been paid?”
Of course, the MESSA insurance company isn’t like many other businesses we’re familiar with.
While other businesses have to keep prices down in order to stay competitive, MESSA doesn’t.
Instead, MESSA offers some of the most comprehensive – and expensive – coverage a teacher can get.
The company does this because it knows Michigan’s unionized teachers will use collective bargaining to demand insurance coverage the union-owned company.
The MESSA folks have benefited nicely from this cozy arrangement. According to Capitol Confidential, the group had $1.24 billion in revenue for 2011.
It wouldn’t appear that MESSA will go out of business if the Pontiac district is allowed to go on a payment plan. So what’s all the fuss about?
Our guess is that MESSA’s money push is driven by simple greed.
It wants its money now and is willing to have students and taxpayers suffer the consequences.
The company has every right to get its money from the financially traumatized district and its beleaguered taxpayers. If that’s how MESSA officials want to behave, go for it.
But, for the simple sake of decency, let’s have the MEA drop its phony claim that it has the best interests of the children and public education at heart.
It’s just not believable anymore.
By Ben Velderman at EAGnews.org
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