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School employees win long fought victory over state

A fight between school employees and the state ended today – in favor of the employees.

The state took money from their paychecks between 2010 and 2012. That was after a law was passed allowing the state to take three percent of their pay for retiree health care costs. The Michigan Supreme Court said the law was unconstitutional, but that didn’t resolve the question of what to do about the money, some 550 million dollars, that had already been handed over to the state.

American Federation of Teachers Michigan President, David Hecker said there wasn’t even a guarantee the money for health care would be there when the teachers retired.

“It’s money that K-12, pre-K, 12, community college employees worked hard for,” he said. “It’s their money. And the state illegally took it and we’re not gonna let the state do that.”

Governor Rick Snyder’s office says the money has been held in escrow so it won’t have an impact on the state budget. He said a state office is working on the process of refunding the money.

“I cannot imagine a better preholiday gift to Michigan’s school employees than getting their hard-earned money returned to them,” said Michigan Education Association President Paula Herbart in a statement. “This is the culmination of years of work by both AFT Michigan and MEA on behalf of our members.”