A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Last year, Paul Mayers was a school custodian employed by the Durand Area Public Schools. But in December, Mayers' job was outsourced to PCMI, which hired him back at the same salary wage but reduced benefits.

This month, Mayers ran for the school board and won. He takes office July 1.

His victory sets up an interesting scenario involving unions and their opposition to outsourcing at public schools.

Does Mayers, a former union president, move to try to get his new board members to restore his old job, even though the school administration claims the move to privatize the cooks and custodial staff saved the district $190,000?

Mayers didn't respond to messages left at the school for him.

The Michigan Education Association says Mayers' victory is an example of voters supporting union-backed candidates.

The MEA's press release read: "In Durand, a school custodian whose job was outsourced to a private company in December, won a contested school board election. Paul Mayers, a former union president who now works for the private company, is one of two union-supported candidates who won in Durand."

"I hope it's a wake-up call," Mayers said in the press release. "This is a victory for the working class."

School board President Steve LaPage said he is open to any ideas that save the school district money but wouldn't consider ending privatization "unless it was not a financial gain for the district."

LaPage said Mayers would be one of seven board members.

"It's what is best for the classroom, not for the 'working class,' " LaPage said. "We are here to educate kids, not employ people."

Durand Superintendent Cindy Weber said privatization "has been working well."

Weber said the jobs of 27 cooks and custodians were privatized and that the private company — PCMI — hired most of the employees back.

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