News Story

Union Official Told Teachers Aides They’d All Get 5% Pay Hikes — They Won’t

Actual increases in St. Clair County district range from 2% to 5.1%

A Michigan teachers aide who belongs to the Anchor Bay Paraprofessional Association, an arm of the state’s largest teachers union, says union members were given wrong information about pay hikes in a tentative contract agreement. She reports voting in favor of the agreement, along with other staff members at the St. Clair County school district, based on the bad information.

Union member Nancy Walczowski says that during an Aug. 3 Zoom meeting, a Michigan Education Association Union Representative, Elizabeth Pyden, stated that all Anchor Bay paraprofessionals would be bumped up to the next highest seniority-based pay step. Pyden also said there is a 5% increase between each step.

But when Walczowski did the math, she discovered no 5% step-to-step pay hike. Instead, pay rates between the 12 steps on the union-negotiated contract range from 2% to 5.1%.

Pyden was asked in an email if a new wage scale had been created before members learned how much their seniority-based step increases were really worth. She replied:

“I am not sure what wage schedule you are looking at. Last contract, the salary schedule was smoothed and there is a 5% increase between every step. Please share what you are looking at because that does not mesh with your latest contract. I can guarantee that no one was provided inaccurate information.”

Union members provided a screen shot of Pyden's response during the Zoom meeting in a chat message where Pyden said there was a 5% increase between every step.

Neither Pyden nor Kevin Marvin, a zone field services director at the MEA, responded to request for comment.

A copy of the actual pay scale confirms that raises were not 5% for every step.

Michigan law prevents anyone from being fired for choosing to not be a member or pay dues or fees to a union. Tens of thousands of former union members have left the Michigan Education Association since the state’s right-to-work law went into effect in 2013, many through the website Michigan Union Optout. That optout website is produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, the publisher of Michigan Capitol Confidential.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.