PEEHIP Lawsuit Update
A hearing was held December 21 in Montgomery County Circuit Court before Hon. Johnny Hardwick in the Remington v. Swindle litigation, commonly known as the PEEHIP lawsuit. For nearly two hours, lawyers for both sides argued issues of fact and points of law. AEA contends that, on April 26, the PEEHIP Board conducted a single day-long meeting that began at 9:30 a.m. to discuss premium and surcharge increases for public education employees. Because the official public notice indicated that the meeting would not start until 1:00 pm, the public was not invited to attend at 9:30, and AEA representatives were specifically prohibited from attending, AEA maintains that this single meeting violated the Open Meetings Act.
PEEHIP maintains that it had a “training session” at 9:30 and then its “meeting” at 1:00, despite the fact that the only thing discussed all day was the increase in out-of-pocket cost for PEEHIP participants and that there is no factual dispute that the same people were in the same building discussing the same thing all day.
Judge Hardwick asked probing questions of both sides in an effort to get to the bottom of the matter. He invited both sides to submit proposed orders to him by January 10, 2017. He made clear that he would not be bound by those orders and did not give a timetable on how quickly he would rule thereafter.
Theron Stokes, AEA Associate Executive Director, said, “Judge Hardwick was correct when he asked PEEHIP’s lawyers how they could argue that it wasn’t subterfuge to have a 9:30 a.m. secret meeting to talk about what they were going to vote on at 1:00 p.m. We have maintained from the beginning that the powers that be at PEEHIP intentionally kept our members and the public at large in the dark about these increases so that the elected members of the Board would not hear the cries of those who have labored for eight years without a pay increase. AEA remains the only organization fighting on behalf of educators in this matter.”
Hundreds, if not thousands, of AEA members saw their take-home pay decrease this year due to the PEEHIP Board’s actions, even though the Legislature passed a 4% raise during the regular session and even passed a resolution telling the PEEHIP Board that they intended for that money to go to educators, not into PEEHIP’s coffers.
Stokes added, “There are members of the PEEHIP Board who think that these increases really haven’t hurt anyone and that educators are ok with what happened. Although educators are now taking a well-deserved Christmas break, I urge each of them to take a few minutes to e-mail the members of the PEEHIP Board to tell them, politely, but in no uncertain terms, that they are not OK with losing their pay raise.”
Judge Hardwick could grant summary judgment to either side, concluding the case, or he could deny all pending motions and set the matter for trial. AEA will continue to update our members on every development in the case.
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