Category Archives: Newsletter

Any post that is intended to edn up in the bi-monthly news letter

Vote For Candidates That Support Public Education, Labor, and the Middle Class

by Maury Koffman, APA President

The 2014 election cycle is proving once again that voters connected to public education are effective and credible messengers when it comes to pointing out to individuals and entire communities those candidates who are going to fight for students and public schools and universities.

With education issues dominating the public debate in several key races nationwide, ads featuring educators are flooding the television airwaves and teachers, education support professionals, and higher education faculty and staff have been extremely vocal about what our students and we need to be successful.

However, knowing who these candidates are is not enough. We must now get out and vote for them on Tuesday, November 4, and encourage others to do the same.
That’s the message NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia is carrying to members and pro-public education activists as she visits several key battleground states, including a stop here in Michigan.

“Those connected to public education have spent this election cycle identifying to neighbors, friends, and family members who the real education champions are—those candidates committed to standing up for students and members at the local, state, and federal levels.”

“However, our job is not done. We must encourage those who care about these issues to get out and vote. Together, our collective voice can breathe new life into the goal of making sure that quality public schools and a college degree are accessible to every student, regardless of where they live or how much money they have.”

TAKE ACTION: Education cuts to budgets in places like Arizona, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin have been exceptionally detrimental to our members and our students. With that being the case, President Eskelsen Garcia is asking all voters to get involved in raising the issue of education when they get out to vote on November 4th.

Hop on your favorite social media and take a picture at the polls, share your Education Voter story, or simply tell your friends to go vote for pro-public education candidates using the hashtag #Vote4Ed.

Questions From The Trenches

For this installment of APA Questions From The Trenches, we asked APA President Maury Koffman to answer questions regarding the University imposed change to the Aetna dental plan coverage.

Did the APA know the University was going to unilaterally impose a change in our Aetna coverage?
Yes and no. The APA contract outlines our dental coverage.  Starting back in 2010/2011, the APA began making proposals at the bargaining table to improve our dental coverage, recognizing there was an issue arising in the foreseeable future between the premium costs of the Aetna plan versus the Delta Dental plan.

Unfortunately, at the 2011 bargaining table, the University made it clear that they did not want to address the issue and insisted on the poor decision to delay address of the issue.  In response, the APA negotiated a Letter of Agreement on dental that placed us back at the bargaining table from 2012 – 2013 exclusively on the issue of dental coverage.

For the last several years, due to the APA collective bargaining agreement language on dental coverage, the University absorbed the rising costs of the Aetna plan.  Their action to unilaterally impose a change is a divergence from our historical working relationship.  Recently the University notified the APA of their intention to unilaterally impose a change to the coverage, knowingly violating our mutually ratified collective bargaining agreement.

In the 2012 dental negotiations, did the APA propose a viable alternative in response to the rising costs of the Aetna coverage?
The APA, with the assistance and presentation by actuaries, identified and presented a cost neutral plan that increased the annual maximum and provided 100% coverage for basic services like your 6-month check-up and cleanings.  The University responded that even though it would enhance dental coverage at no cost, they were unwilling to make the change.  This information was previously shared through the APA Newsletter and at our APA Community Luncheons.

Why did the University unilaterally impose a change in the Aetna coverage?
In an effort to generate unnecessary savings for the employer, the University unilaterally modified the Aetna dental coverage for 2015 Open Enrollment.  In function, they have reduced the coverage under the Aetna plan and left APA members with no option to obtain the level of coverage offered under the historic Aetna plan.

In the previous year, how many APA members selected the Aetna plan?
Roughly 25% of the APA membership has chosen the current Aetna coverage for multiple reasons.  Additionally, the University as refused to consider making any improvement to the Delta Dental coverage.

Is any change being made to the Delta Dental plan?
No change is being made to the Delta Dental plan for the 2015 calendar year.

Over the last year, were there any efforts to resolve this issue?
The APA had numerous meetings with the University administration in effort to find a mutually agreeable resolution.  Unfortunately, the University was unwilling to consider the concerns of APA members.  This change in posture by the University is a clear conveyance by the Office of Employee Relations and the senior administration at Michigan State University that they have a blatant disregard for the work you perform at the University everyday and elevates the ire of concern of their actions moving forward.

What are the next steps moving forward?
The APA is pursuing all possible remedies, including pending legal action, to compel the University to recognize our right to bargain over wages, hours, and conditions of employment that includes changes to our dental coverage.  Our hope always has been and continues to be a collaborative process on all issue that impacts our members’ employment.

Who do I contact with questions regarding this University imposed change?
Should you have specific questions regarding the change in Aetna dental coverage, please contact University HR benefits at 517-353-4434 or via email at  Of course, you can also feel free to contact the APA with your comments, questions, and concerns.

How Do I Get a Raise?

by Melissa Sortman, MEA Uniserv Director

One of the highest ranked concerns of any professional employee group is wages, and APA is no different.  Your bargained contract provides numerous ways your salary can be increased in addition to your established benefits and other compensation. The More You Know Session: How do I get a raise will be held on November 14, 2014 at noon. Please rsvp to to attend.

Bargained Wage Increase
APA and the Coalition of Labor Organizations (CLO) at MSU bargain collectively a wage and health care agreement that includes across the board wage increases. The current agreement runs through December 31, 2017.

The current APA Contract runs through September 30, 2015. Under the APA the contract, there will be a two percent (2%) wage increase on October 1, 2014. There will be an additional two and a half percent (2.5%) wage increase on October 1, 2015. The wage increase will be distributed according to the 60% merit and 40% across-the-board formula found in Article 17 of the APA Contract and the Letter of Agreement on Merit Guidelines.  All wage increase funds allocated to a unit must be distributed to members in the bargaining unit.

Salary Progression Level Increase
The APA Contract provides an automatic increase for those members whose wages are below the Progression Level amounts found in Article 17 IV of the contract.  Each January eligible employees shall receive a three percent (3%) increase up to the Progression Level amount.

Off Schedule Merit Salary Increase
A unit can give a raise at any time for any amount. It is called an off-schedule merit salary raise. There are no maximum salaries for any grade level. There is no contractual restriction on a member receiving a raise and a member can request a raise at any time. Requesting a raise during the annual review period is particularly appropriate.

Job duties for a member’s current position may change enough to require a reclassification of their position. The salary for position reclassified and promoted to a higher grade level can be no lower than the minimum salary for the higher grade level.

A reclassification for a position is typically requested through the unit administrator, but the APA can request a review through the Assistant Vice President of Human Resources. The Office of Resource Staffing Services reviews the requests for reclassification.

A change to a higher grade level as a promotion under the APA Contract requires a minimum of a five percent (5%) wage increase for one grade level increased and ten percent (10%) for two or more levels increased or placed at the minimum of the higher grade level, whichever is greater. The provisions of a promotion can be found in Article 15 of the APA Contract.

Equity Review
An equity review can be requested to bring a member’s wages in line with other individuals in the unit and/or on campus with similar years of University service and job classification. Contact Human Resources Staffing Service Office at 353-3720.

Please contact the APA Office with any further questions or concerns at (517) 353-4898 or

Your Fellow APs

Interview by Laura Wise, APA Executive Board

This issue of the APA Newsletter features Kaye L. Boucher. She serves as Human Resources Administrator in the Veterinary Medicine Dean’s Office


How long have you been at MSU?
I will be celebrating nine years with MSU at the end of this month.  I am very appreciative that I had the opportunity to work as a human resources specialist in the central Human Resources office for my first seven years with the University. This role allowed my to gain a broad perspective of University operations and build valued relationships with a network of human resources and business professionals across the University.  Two years ago, I was excited to be offered the opportunity to join the College of Veterinary Medicine in a human resources generalist role. This position allows me to build upon and broaden my knowledge and skills across all areas of human resources.

Have you been a member of APA the whole time?
Yes, I have been an APA member for the full nine years. My role in human resources has allowed me to appreciate my APA membership from a different perspective than most members.  In my role, I have had the opportunity to work with and witness the passion that the APA leadership has for its members and the MSU community.  I have had the opportunity to partner with Maury Koffman to make sure a member receives the best possible placement opportunity after a layoff.  I have worked with Nick Bourland on the winter coat drive to benefit the MSU community, and I have had difficult, yet respectful, conversations with Melissa Sortman to make sure we have a mutually beneficial outcome for the APA member and the department.

Can you tell me a little bit about what you do?
As human resources manager for the College of Veterinary Medicine, I partner with college leadership and unit human resources and business officers to develop and implement human resources programs, policies and procedures that support the mission and strategic direction of the college.  This includes serving as an internal consultant to faculty, staff and administrators in areas relating to employee relations, recruitment, performance management, employee development, compensation, work flow and process analysis, regulatory compliance and other human resources programs, policies and initiatives.

What brought you to your job at MSU?
I grew up in the greater Lansing area and graduated from Michigan State, so I already had a strong affiliation with MSU and understood the broad impact it had on the community and beyond. There was no question that working for MSU would be a source of pride for me.

What do you love about working at MSU?
There are so many things to note, but it is all about the range and diversity of opportunities, such as the opportunity to:

•  work in a supportive environment that promotes work/life balance
• participate in training for career development/advancement and access e-learning programs 24 hours per day, 7 days a week
• work among leading scholars, scientists and researchers
• take a scenic walk through campus on your lunch hour or participate in Health4U programs
• join your co-workers in supporting special needs on campus or reaching out to the community
• collaborate with colleagues across campus to improve a process or reach a common goal

What do you like to do when you are not at work?
I am a home body, so I enjoy taking care of my home and spending time with my husband, three boys, and extended family. Many of our gatherings or weekend getaways are centered around sporting events, including MSU and community athletic events, watching hockey, and playing golf.

Election Links & Resources

MEA’s Online Voter Guide
Plug in your address and you’ll get your polling place and the MEA-recommended candidates for your area. This link should only be shared with MEA members and family. It is also available on’s Members Only Political Action page, along with a more comprehensive list of local recommendations. It is also available in the new MEA mobile app.

Here you can find the total four-year cost for every K-12 district, community college and university, along with several Kids Not CEOs videos.

2014 Kids Not CEOs viral video
Our latest satirical video about the CEOs benefitting from Snyder’s education cuts – more than 10,000 views thus far!

The Truth About School Funding
MEA Labor Economist Ruth Beier explains the math on school funding cuts in less than three minutes, including some great visuals.

What Did You Learn in School Today, Mr. Schauer?

Back in June, Mark Schauer visited Macomb County’s Armada High School to shadow students and experience Michigan public education first-hand. This is a great video to introduce members to Mark Schauer and help them understand his sincerity in making education Michigan’s top priority.

This is MEA’s new online contribution site for MEA-PAC and the NEA Fund.


Volunteering for the Coordinated Campaign 


Looking to help get Mark Schauer and the rest of our ticket elected? Visit here to submit your  name as a volunteer or to find one of the more than 20 coordinated campaign offices near you. You can also go to and click on the Election 2014 Volunteer icon to get your name in to help with campaigns.


APA Lunch & Learn with NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia on Sept. 24

The APA is delighted to announce the next installment of our APA Lunch & Learn series:

A lunch conversation with NEA President Lily Eskselsen Garcia

12noon – 1pm on September 24, 2014

Spartan Rooms of the MSU International Center Crossroads Food Court

We are honored to have NEA President Eskelsen Garcia making her inaugural visit to Michigan State University after taking office on September 1, 2014. Lily will address the role of our national affiliate in advocating for higher education and organized labor.

Do not miss this opportunity to hear directly from our national union president. We are aware that President Eskelsen Garcia will be working on a tight schedule but we will also try to save a few minutes for Q&A.

A lunch voucher will be provided to those members who attend and stay for the presentation so you do not have to go without your midday meal. As a reminder, there are several staff parking lots near the MSU International Center and your staff ID can be used for campus CATA bus routes.

We hope to see you there!

Your Fellow APs

This issue of the APA Newsletter features Suzanne Levy. She serves as the Authority Control Coordinator in the Metadata Management Unit for the main MSU Library.


How long have you been at MSU?
Prior to working at MSU I was a graduate student in the Department of History, earning a Master of Arts in 1979.   I was also a graduate assistant in the University Archives & Historical Collections for a year, as well as a teaching assistant for a number of years.  I did some work toward my Ph.D. but basically ran out of steam and funds at about the same time.  I worked odd jobs in the area until 1984 when I was hired in as clerk in the serials unit in the Main Library.

Have you been a member of APA the whole time?
I have worked at MSU in excess of thirty years.  I have only been an APA for the last few years, but regardless of my union affiliation here at MSU I have always been a strong and vocal union member and supporter, perhaps due to my upbringing in the labor capitol of Detroit.  During the CTU strike of 1987 (?) I was a picket captain and was proud to see the strike through to a positive outcome.

Can you tell me a little bit about what you do?
I have been the authority control coordinator for the MSU Libraries since 1989.  The best way to describe what I do is quality control for the Libraries’ various databases.  It is a very complex and challenging position and I love my work here.  I have been blessed to have great supervisors who basically have given me a good deal of latitude in my work.  As the libraries have migrated from a paper card catalog to an online catalog my job has evolved dramatically and I was re-classed as an APA a few years ago.  And since then my work has further grown in complexity.  I am strictly a behind the scenes person, but you can see elements  of my work/job are in all aspects of the catalog and this enable our patrons to access our holdings to make the best use of their time here at the libraries.

What do you love about working at MSU?
I consider MSU to be my family.  The University has treated me well, given me a great education and a wonderful work life.  I couldn’t ask for a better situation of work, friends and colleagues.  My dedication to this, my family, is evidenced in the number of endowments I have established both at the library and Vet College.

What do you like to do when you are not at work?
When I am not at work I enjoy music in all forms, playing and listening. I love to go to the hear the Lansing Symphony Orchestra and am glad we have at MSU a world class venue such as the Wharton Center for a broad range of cultural events.  I am a member of the Broad and enjoy going to shows there as well. Additionally,  I play mandolin and guitar, learning the former and teaching the latter.  I am a bookworm and a blogger and a fabulous cook.  I have three cats and I believe this qualifies me as the quintessential library employee.

Higher Ed Affordability – And Our Union – Takes Center Stage on Capitol Hill

At a Capitol Hill event with supporters behind the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, Sen. Al Franken told a story about meeting with Joelle Strangler, a student at the University of Minnesota.


Strangler’s mother was a lifelong teacher who desperately wanted her kids to go to college. To help with the rising costs of college tuition, she left teaching to get a higher paying job in hopes that she could help her children avoid the massive debt most graduates face.


“This is about our educational system. We lost a great teacher because she can make more money in the private sector,” said Franken. “Joelle is now a junior, student body president, and she will still graduate with a mountain of debt.”


Franken is a cosponsor of the Bank on Student Act, which help millions of Americans with existing federal student loans and private loans in good standing to refinance at a lower rate to make repayment more manageable.


“This is putting a damper on our entire economy. There’s over $1.2 trillion in debt, and this is simply saying, ‘Let’s let people refinance, just like you can refinance your car loan, just like you can refinance a home loan. Why not allow graduates to refinance their student loans?’”


Currently, there are forty million Americans that have student loan debt. More than 70 percent of America’s students borrow money to attend college, and the average student graduates from college owning nearly $30,000. The act would allow an estimated 25 million student loan borrowers to refinance at a lower rate.


In order to offset the cost of the proposed legislation, the bill will implement the “Buffet Rule,” a minimum tax rate of 30 percent for individuals with incomes of $1 million or more.


“It’s just an approach to make this fair. It’s for people who make millions a year or even billions a year, asking them to pay what the rest of us pay, what middle class Americans pay,” said Franken. “This is just fair. It’s the least we can do.”

When the bill was introduced this summer, it failed to pass in the Senate, falling short by just two votes with support from both sides of the aisle.


Chelsey Herrig, a Minnesota native and NEA Student Chair, was at Capitol Hill to lend her support to the legislation. Herrig was there on behalf of the 60,000 future educators she represents, many who will or already have incurred substantial student loan debt.


“Many students are entering college who want to be teachers, and they’re really passionate about education. When they see that they might never be able to pay off their student debt, they get discouraged,” said Herrig. “We often lose very passionate educators that would be awesome in the field.”


What’s really on the minds of her student members, said Herrig, is how to make college affordable for the students that will be in their classrooms after they graduate.


“We’re always looking out for our future students. That’s why we’re going into it teaching, we want to make a difference in our student’s lives,” said Herrig.

“We want to be sure to protect them. We have the voice and we need to speak up for them.”


The vote for the bill is expected sometime in the next two weeks. In the meantime, tell your Senator that America’s students deserve degrees, not debt!