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Health insurance policy with $100 bills.
Teachers in Grand Rapids, Michigan, say that new paycheck cuts are leaving them with so little pay they qualify for food stamps. The teachers, working without a contract, have been hit by a 2011 state law that limited the amount public employers can pay for workers' health insurance. That's now being applied retroactively to these teachers, cutting as much as $300 from each paycheck.
"I am a five-year teacher who brings home $555.39 for two weeks and who currently qualifies for a Bridge Card," Ratliff told the school board Monday to loud applause from her colleagues. "How is this possible?"

Some two dozen teachers told similar stories during nearly an hour of often emotional testimonials. Some told of renting rooms in order to keep their homes while others said they simply can no longer pay their bills.

The teachers have not had a contract since August, and their union president says the school district has slowed negotiations by first saying it wasn't ready to start bargaining and later by having staff, rather than the school board members who can actually make decisions, run negotiations, constantly saying they don't have the authority to get things done. He also suggests there are ways the district could, if it wanted to, cushion the effects of the retroactive insurance payments by increasing salaries or offering one-time bonuses. But the district isn't talking about that, even though the extra money being taken out of teachers' paychecks goes straight into the district's coffers.

So: Teachers without a contract are being hit by a new law that slashes their pay, with an employer dragging its feet over bargaining a new contract as teachers are forced to go on food stamps. All in the context of the anti-union law Michigan legislators passed during the lame duck session which will, at the end of the month, start weakening unions in contract negotiations. This is basically the Republican plan for teachers in action.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 07:13 AM PST.

Also republished by Motor City Kossacks, In Support of Labor and Unions, Teachers Lounge, Michigan, My Michigan, and Daily Kos.

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