Alabama Education Association Files Lawsuit over “Secret Meeting”
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The Alabama Education Association (AEA) is filing a lawsuit against the Public Education Employees’ Health Insurance Program (PEEHIP). In the suit, the AEA claims PEEHIP held a “secret meeting” to increase the healthcare premiums of teachers across the state. This increase would offset most, if not all, of the four percent pay raise the State Legislature approved for teachers in the last session.
It was a pay raise teachers like Sheila Hocutt Remington waited on for nearly a decade.
“It’s not that is was the four percent. We would’ve liked fifteen percent after nine years,” she laughs. “But the fact that someone was saying, you deserve to have that four percent. You deserve to have your insurance fully funded, you deserve for us to put 475 classroom teachers back into Alabama’s Education System.” Hocutt Remington taught for nearly 43 years, and is now the AEA President.
The new insurance premium costs are upsetting to the teachers, but Hocutt Remington says it is how the decision was reached that brought about the need for legal action.
“In a way where we have no input, which I think is a key part here.”
Hocutt Remington claims the Insurance Program Board Members held a “secret meeting” to discuss the insurance changes, thus violating the Open Meetings Act. The decision has left Hocutt Remington and her fellow teachers with more questions than answers.
“What changed from the moment they were asked, you know, ‘what would you need to fully fund the insurance?'” she asks. “What changed between then, and the secret meeting? And why, if it was something on the up and up, why did you need a secret meeting?”
“Did they do it right? And we’re saying they didn’t do it right,” says the AEA Attorney James Anderson. “And the question is, ‘could there be a do-over?’ Well yeah, there could be a do-over if they have an open meeting and give us time!”
AEA is hoping to get back to square one of the decision, and be included in all of the meetings concerning teachers. They want to have an open meeting about the premium increase that would make every party satisfied.