Questions From The Trenches

For this installment of APA Questions From The Trenches, we asked APA President Maury Koffman to answer questions regarding the APA 2017 October wage increase.


How much is the negotiated APA annual wage increase this year for 2017?

For October 2017, the salary increase will be provided as a 1.9% base wage increase with 40% of the wage increase provided automatically across-the-board and 60% of the wage increase provided by management’s application of the merit pay guidelines.


How much is the negotiated APA annual wage increase next year for 2018?

The APA negotiated annual wage increase is applied every year in October and is determined as a formula that benchmarks from our annual health care cost increase. For the measuring year that determined the APA 2018 base wage increase, health care costs increased 16.4%. Per the contract, any year health care costs increase 11.01% or more, health care continues to be fully funded for single, double, and family coverage but there is also a salary freeze. Since health care costs increased more than 11.01%, for October 2018 APA members will be on a base wage salary freeze unless a department budgets otherwise.


How is the merit pay portion of the wage increase determined for 2017?

The APA contract codifies a mandatory objective process in determining the merit pay portion of the APA annual wage increase.  The full details can be found within the APA contract.  In short, the criteria must be openly communicated and objectively applied in the department.  Additionally, the decision on merit pay allocation is to be discussed between you and your immediate supervisor before your October 2017 paycheck is issued.


Does the APA contract define a minimum and maximum annual salary for all members of the bargaining unit?

Yes and no.  The APA contract outlines minimum salary requirements for all grade levels within the bargaining unit. The APA base wage increases serve only a floor and your supervisor/department may provide you with a greater salary increase in October or throughout the year in addition to the APA negotiated base wage increases. 


How does the formula work to determine my annual base wage increase?

The formula defines the annual APA raises based on the amount of the health care cost increase from the previous year.  You can review the formula on page six (6) of the Wage and Health Care Agreement on the APA website:


Who can I contact for more information or if I have questions or concerns?

Please feel free to reach the APA office anytime via email at or call us during regular business hours at 517.999.4004.

APA Members Eligible for Free Life Insurance and a Free Totebag!

As an APA/MEA member, you are eligible for free life insurance; however, only 37 percent of MEA members have designated beneficiaries for their NEA Complimentary Life Insurance.  Take the time today to designate a beneficiary and get a free totebag from NEA Member Benefits!


Members who act now can receive a free canvas tote bag for designating a beneficiary at or by calling 1-855-NEA-LIFE (632-5433) and mentioning the offer code TOTEBAG.  NEA Complimentary coverage includes up to $1,000 of term life insurance; up to $5,000 of accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) coverage; $50,000 of AD&D insurance for any covered accident that occurs on the job or while serving as an Association Leader; and $150,000 of life insurance for unlawful homicide while on the job.


What’s more—eligible new NEA members are provided an additional $15,000 of term life insurance for 12 months with no evidence of insurability required. Following the complimentary one-year period, members will be able to continue their coverage at low member-only rates.  New members can follow this link to learn about both complimentary coverage and NEA Introductory Term Life coverage.


Annual Membership Meeting November 7

A general membership meeting for the Administrative Professional Association will be held November
7 th at 5:15pm at the office near Jolly & Okemos Roads. The exact address to put in your GPS or
Googlemaps is: 3474 Alaiedon Parkway, Okemos, MI 48864. Just look for the sign out front that says
Michigan Education Association (MEA), since APA is part of the MEA.

Come meet the APA Executive Board and Officers, APA Area Representatives and other APA members.
Brief committee updates will be given and there is also a Q & A portion so members can ask questions.
The meeting agenda is still being developed, but will be shared with the membership in advance of the

This meeting is open to all APA members in good standing. We encourage you to come network and
take a few minutes to hear what is going on, ask questions and provide input. Even if your schedule only
allows you to drop by for a few minutes on your way home, please know you are welcome to do so and
you can even sit near the door if you need to slide out early.

APA 2017, 2018, and 2019 Wage Increases

The APA is proud to have negotiated a joint wage and health care agreement that ensures annual eligible wage increases and fully funded health care with no monthly employee-paid premium for single, double, and family coverage for the base plan (Blue Care Network) health care coverage.


In short, the APA wage increases for the coming years are as follows:


October 2017: 1.9% subject to 40% of the wage increase provided automatically and 60% of the wage increase provided through management’s application of merit pay guidelines.


October 2018: 0% increase/salary freeze under the last year of our current joint wage and health care agreement.


October 2019: to be determined under the first year of our recently ratified successor wage and health care agreement. A minimum 2% increase and a maximum of a 2.75% base wage increase. 


As a reminder, the APA negotiates our contract that ensures fully funded health care, a salary minimum by grade level, and annual eligible base wage increases. That being said, the APA contract works as a floor and there is no ceiling for the salary increase amount or maximum annual salary. 


While 100% of the funds negotiated by the APA for annual wage increases must be distributed in full to APA members each year in October, a department is fully permitted under the APA contract to provide a greater wage increase in October, or extend an out-of-cycle wage increase in any month, provided the department accounts for the funding in their budget and it is processed through HR.


A More Detailed Annual Wage Explanation

In further detail, with the APA serving a key leadership role in negotiating the contract, all unionized campus support staff have a mutual agreement that provides the same health care coverage and annual percent based wage increases. 


For the APA, October 2017 is the third year of our current four-year joint wage and health care agreement. Under the current agreement, annual eligible base wage increases are determined through application of the health care and wage matrix. 


In function, this means the total annual health care cost increase from July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016, determined what our October 2017, base wage increase will be. Our annual APA raise is provided roughly 14 months after the health care spend measuring year concludes. Since our total health care cost increased 5.9% in that 2015 – 2016 measuring year, the matrix provides that all APA members are eligible for a 1.9% base wage increase this October with 40% of the wage increase provided automatically and 60% of the wage increase provided through management’s application of merit pay guidelines.


October 2018 is the fourth and final year of our current joint wage and health care agreement which utilizes the same process outlined above to determine our eligible base wage increase. However, the total annual health care cost from July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017, increased 16.4% in that measuring year. Therefore, under the matrix, all APA members are slated for a salary freeze (or as MSU identifies it, a 0% increase) in October 2018. 


Finally, the October 2019 base wage increase will be determined through application of our recently ratified joint wage and health care agreement. Under the agreement we are assured at least a 2% increase and a maximum of a 2.75% base wage increase. 


One very significant improvement from the last round of joint wage and health care negotiations is a change in methodology in how we calculate the total annual health care cost increase. For our wages starting in October 2019, the health care cost experience shall be calculated based on the average number of Coalition of Labor union members eligible for health care. That calculation shall be based on a monthly average over the period July 1 through June 30 of each year. 


This is a positive change from the years of our current agreement that establishes our October 2017 and October 2018 base wage increases. Our wages for October 2015 through October 2018 were determined exclusively on the total health care spend regardless of how many employees were/are represented by campus support staff unions. 


This positive change starting with our October 2019 wage increase means the annual increase accommodates the circumstance of MSU hiring more employees over the next four years without negatively impacting APA members’ annual base wage increase. Under any scenario, health care remains fully funded with no employee paid monthly premium for single, double, and family coverage through December 31, 2021.


Therefore, in the worst-case scenario for our October 2019 wage increase, should health care costs increase at 10.01% or more during that measuring year APA members would be provided a 1% base wage increase and an additional 1% lump sum bonus (for a total of 2%). In the best-case scenario that year, if health care costs are calculated to have increased 1% or less, APA members would be eligible for a 2.75% base wage increase.  


Since the total health care spend measuring year for our October 2019 base wage increase is July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018, we have no way of knowing the specific APA October 2019 wage increase at this time. However, once the final number is determined under the new agreement (in the fall of next year, 2018) we will communicate with the APA membership accordingly.



Further Questions?

We hope that the above information resolves any confusion regarding upcoming annual APA wage increases. If you have additional questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us via email at or phone us at the APA office at 517.999.4004.

Our Ratified APA Joint Wage & Health Care Agreement

Serving as co-chief negotiator, the APA’s Melanie Waltz lead efforts on behalf of the APA and the Coalition of Labor Organizations at MSU to negotiate a successor wage and health care agreement with the University. The APA is proud to have played a key leadership role among all campus support staff unions to fend off many University proposals that would have otherwise made a significant shift in health care costs to the employee and functionally scaled back member wages.


Throughout negotiations, updates were provided in newsletter articles, discussions took place during official APA meetings, and conversations were held at the many APA Community Luncheons hosted around campus. After months of bargaining, the Negotiations Team reached a tentative agreement with the University late in the evening of June 27.


APA’s leadership in our collective union effort resulted in maintaining fully funded health care for the next four years – through December 31, 2021 – as well as enhanced the annual eligible base wage increases provided to all APA members in October each year.


Additionally, the ratified agreement included an improvement on how we calculate our health care cost increase which may result in greater annual eligible base wage increases and lump sum bonuses for every APA member each year.


The APA Executive Board reviewed and discussed the proposed agreement during their meeting on Monday, July 10, 2017. The APA Executive Board unanimously voted to transmit the tentative agreement to the APA membership with recommendation and the APA membership officially ratified the agreement on August 8, 2017, with 630 (91%) members voting in favor of the agreement.


The APA has posted the complete joint wage and health care agreement, as well as a summary document to explain all the elements of the ratified agreement, on the APA website at

In conclusion, through the process of collective bargaining the APA and campus unions protected workers from the impact of a major cost shift and benefit reductions proposed by the MSU Administration. Without the hard work of the APA and the other campus unions, and by having an equal voice at the table with MSU, the employees would be paying far more for health care and would have experienced a roll back in real wages.


The strength of our union is contingent on a fully resourced local which is only possible through full membership from each eligible member. It is through that solidarity that we are able to retain the vibrant wages, heath care coverage, retirement match 2-1, and other fringe benefits that all APA members enjoy every day.

Questions From The Trenches

Common Questions on the Ratified Health Care and Wage Agreement


Who was involved in bargaining of the ratified health care and wage agreement?


The recent negotiations that attained our now ratified joint wage and health care agreement was a collective effort of all support staff unions on campus bargaining with the University at one time at the same table. APA/MEA UniServ Director, Melanie Waltz, served as the co-chief negotiator for all unions.


What topics were discussed during negotiations?


The wage and health care agreement is limited in scope. Therefore, all parties negotiating the agreement only discussed and addressed matters directly related to health care and annual base wages.


Now that the agreement is ratified, will a fully funded base health care plan continue?


Yes. Under the ratified agreement, the MSU base health care plan will remain fully funded, with no premium directly paid by APA members for single, double, and family coverage, through December 31, 2021.


How does the matrix formula work to determine my annual base wage increase?


The matrix in the ratified agreement defines the formula for the annual APA raises commencing with the October 2019 base wage increase.  For example using the matrix, if health care costs increase by 4.75% in the first year of the agreement, APA members would maintain fully funded health care with no monthly premium share and be eligible for a 2.2% base wage increase in October 2019, subject to the standard contract provisions of 40% across the board and 60% using the merit pay process.


What are the APA base wage increases in the coming years?


The following annual base wage increases are subject to the standard APA contract provisions of 40% across the board and 60% using the merit pay process:


October 2017 – 1.9% base wage increase

October 2018 – 2.6% maximum base wage increase to be determined under

   the current/old matrix formula

October 2019 – 2.75% maximum base wage increase through matrix formula

October 2020 – 2.75% maximum base wage increase through matrix formula

October 2021 – 2.75% maximum base wage increase through matrix formula

October 2022 – 2.75% maximum base wage increase through matrix formula


Who should I call with my additional questions?

APA members should feel free to contact the APA office at 517.999.4004 or via email at with any questions or concerns.


Join us for the MSU Homecoming Parade

Have you always wanted to be in the parade? The MSU Administrative-Professional Association plans to register to be part of the parade on Friday, October 20th. The parade begins at 6:00 p.m. at the Hannah Community Center, travels down Abbot to Grand River and onto campus at the Farm Lane entrance. If you and your family are interested in walking in the parade with us, please contact Sue Brandt at

Area Representative (AR) Spotlight – Becky Jo Farrington

What is your job title? Assistant Director of Development, College of Natural Science


What area of campus, building and department do you work in?

I work on north campus, in the Natural Science Building. I am part of the Advancement Team for the college, so I work for the Dean’s office in the College of Natural Science. I am also part of the greater University Advancement ‘umbrella’ that includes all of the development staff, MSU Alumni Association, communications and support staff.


How long have you been at MSU?

Just over four years


How long have you been an Area Rep?

More than two years, less than three…


Why is being a member of the Union important to you?

Before I worked at MSU part of the draw to come and work on campus were things like great healthcare benefits, matched retirement investments by the university, plenty of paid time off and more. When I was hired in my role and met with the VP of the MSU APA (who is now Dennis Seybert) I learned that many of the ‘great benefits’ that I valued were in place due to the union! I also grew up in an MEA household as my mother was a teacher in the public schools for over 25 years. Being a member of the APA is more than making sure I have access to great healthcare and am paid a fair salary, it is also about being part of a community that can provide support and information. I’ve also met amazing colleagues and made new friends! I feel this is very important working at a large institution like MSU.


What words of advice do you have for the new hires at MSU?

Get coffee with Dennis!   There will be a lot of information when you are first hired, as my supervisor use to say it’s like “drinking from a firehose.” Joining the APA and attending things like community lunches and other APA events make it easy to utilize the built-in network of support that the union provides.


What do you love about working at MSU?

I’m a proud alumna (class of ’02) and love being on campus every day. I love my job, I get to work with alumni and donors who are investing in the university, I help them connect to things that are meaningful to them and they feel great about making a positive difference at MSU. I have also met some of the best people ever while working here and have made new friends for life!


What do you like to do when you are not at work?

I love to be outside, especially this time of year. I spend a lot of time with family and friends, camping, hiking, biking, on the beach, on a river, seeing live music, or just relaxing with my dog, Jack. I also volunteer for local campaigns and community events in Lansing.


The AR’s are appointed by the Executive Board and their role is to assist with distributing APA materials and information and to serve as a resource for members. AR’s are assigned to a geographic area of campus, so if there is not an AR in your immediate building, you can find one nearby. For a list of AR’s go to