Union Says Don’t Change Pension System, But Most Teachers Get No Pension

56.6 percent get nothing from ‘most efficient and secure’ school retirement system

The American Federation of Teachers has sent out an online letter to union members urging them to oppose reform of Michigan’s underfunded school employee pension system.

The missive links to a form AFT members can use to deliver a letter to their state representative and senator.

The AFT communication claims that bad things will happen if the state stops enrolling new school employees in its underfunded defined benefit pension system and instead gives contributions to an individual 401(k)-like account each new employee would own. It says:

“This would mean that hundreds of thousands of public employees would no longer have access to the most efficient and secure method of providing for retirement.”

ForTheRecord says: The majority of new teachers never get the “secure method of providing for retirement” that the union says is important. That’s because most of them never become “vested” or eligible for eventual retirement benefits — something that happens only after 10 years on the job.

More than half of Michigan’s public school teachers, 56.6 percent, never put in the 10 years needed to qualify for a pension, according to a 2014 report by Bellwether Education Partners. If those individuals had instead been given employer contributions to their own 401(k)-like accounts, the money and investments would be theirs no matter how limited their tenure.

Stay Engaged

Simply enter your email below to receive our weekly email:


Detroit Prep is a top-rated and economically and racially diverse charter school in the city. It's growth means it needs to move out from a church basement and into a new location. Nearby is a former Detroit Public Schools building, sitting empty for years. But, worried about competition, the public school district refused to sell. For years, district and local government officials in Detroit had worked to block public charter schools. They pushed legislation at the Michigan Capitol to hinder them, refused to sell to them, transferred surplus buildings from the district to the city government and imposed deed restrictions on property sales to private developers. All of it was aimed to hinder or even prevent charter school choice outside the confines of the Detroit school district.

Related Sites