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MEA Membership for Active Education Employees 

Most MEA members are active education employees who work within a bargaining unit represented by MEA under either state or federal labor law.  Members within that bargaining unit are part of a “local association” – membership is unified across the local, state and national levels, so joining MEA means you’re also joining your local and the National Education Association. MEA has more than 1,100 locals representing teachers (EA) and education support professionals (ESP) at school districts, higher education institutions and other education-related employers across the Michigan.


To ensure that the education of our students and the working environments of our members are of the highest quality.

The Michigan Education Association serves members in two vital roles: as a strong and aggressive union representing and protecting member rights and as a professional association working to better the education profession and the educational system. Its highest priorities are to:

  • Advocate for quality public education for all students
  • Improve salaries, benefits and working conditions by providing bargaining
    representation and contract maintenance for members
  • Protect the legal rights of its members and local associations.
  • Effect changes in the state’s political climate in order to secure favorable reform of the system for financing public education
  • Improve education by strengthening the education profession and professional development opportunities
  • Increase growth and strength by continuing to organize nonaffiliated education employees

The Michigan Education Association (MEA) came into being on October 12, 1852, in the John D. Pierce Hall at Michigan State Normal School in Ypsilanti. The MEA was originally organized as the Michigan State Teachers’ Association (MSTA) with about 200 teachers taking part in the founding. Any Michigan teacher could join by sending in their name and the dues of 25 cents.

By October 1921, the Association had grown so large that the membership called for establishment of a regional and district system, which we still have today. In addition, a statewide movement by teachers’ clubs generated increased activity to improve the welfare of the profession. These groups began considering issues such as sick leave, retirement, higher salaries, credit unions, tenure and higher standards.

In 1926, the MSTA officially became the Michigan Education Association. Three years later, in 1929, the MEA erected its own headquarters building at 935 North Washington Avenue in Lansing.

In 1958, with membership of nearly 48,000, the MEA launched an expanded services campaign which included among other things, an intensive legislative program and an all-around streamlining of the nation’s fifth largest education association. By 1964, MEA had outgrown its headquarters in Lansing and moved to its present location in East Lansing.

In 1965, membership in MEA took on new meaning. It was in July of 1965 that Public Act 379 was enacted by the Michigan legislature, giving public employees, including teachers, the right to bargain with their employers as equals under the law.

Overnight, the MEA became an aggressive force for teacher rights and welfare, as well as other professional concerns. In the years since the advent of collective bargaining, MEA membership has increased from 65,000 teachers, principals and superintendents to 117,000 teachers and support personnel.

Since 1965, working conditions for teachers and support personnel have improved tremendously through the bargaining of master contracts by MEA local units in over 500 Michigan school districts.

In 1974-75 an in-house task force recommended that MEA pursue the formation of an organization to represent educational support personnel for the purposes of collective bargaining. In the spring of 1975, the MEA Representative Assembly endorsed this recommendation and MESPA was on its way to becoming a reality.

In the spring of 1981, MESPA became affiliated with the NEA and in the spring of 1983, the MEA Representative Assembly voted to make active membership available to MEA ESP-NEA members effective September, 1984. The final step took place on May 19, 1984 when MESPA members voted to join the MEA family. The combining of the two groups created one of the largest single unions dealing with public education. As of June 2003 the total combined EA and ESP membership tops 137,000 members.

The MEA has been responsible for many achievements which include securing teacher tenure, defeating parochiad and voucher proposals, and improving state financing of education. Giant strides forward have been achieved in modernizing Michigan school personnel practices and upgrading the teaching profession. Today, the MEA is considered one of the most powerful associations in the nation.

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About NEA

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA’s 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.