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

Schools Put Unions Ahead of Teachers on Right-to-Work

'Labor accord' more important than employee freedom

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It’s rare for employers to oppose right-to-work laws — the policy of allowing employees to choose whether or not to financially support unions. But that’s the exactly the position of two organizations that represent one of the state’s largest, tax-supported employers — public schools.

The Michigan Association of School Boards and the Michigan Association of School Administrators have issued a statement claiming that a right-to-work law would “send the wrong message to families.” The statement does not explain what that message might be and why it would be wrong for Michigan families to hear it.

Worse, MASB’s and MASA’s position appears to place the financial interest of teachers unions ahead of teachers and other school employees.

In a forced unionization state like Michigan, nearly all unionized school employees work under contracts that come with an ultimatum: support the union financially or pack your bags. In a recent Mackinac Center survey of Michigan teacher union contracts, all but one contained such a "union security" provision.

What’s more is that the vast majority of these school employees never voted to be represented by the union they are forced to support. A right-to-work bill would make it illegal for school boards and unions to sign contracts that make union support a condition of employment.

Why would school officials oppose these rights for their employees? Probably because they’re simply looking out for their own best interest. It makes the lives of school boards and superintendents much easier when there is “labor accord,” and, even after imposing on the state a combative and expensive push to cement union privileges into the state’s constitution, school employee unions are all set to “go to the mattresses” if the Michigan Legislature takes up a right-to-work bill. Apparently, this is more important to them then the right of their employees to chose whether or not to financially support union activities.

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Star International Academy is the highest ranked high school in Michigan on the Mackinac Center for Public Policy's Contest and Performance report card for both 2014 and 2012. The study and a database of every school in the state can be found at www.Mackinac.org/CAP.

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