Union President: '[Recalls] are the least appealing of all the options'
Michigan Education Association President Steve Cook tells members of the state's largest union in a memo that the recall of Republican Rep. Paul Scott may have backfired.
In a three-page letter, obtained by Michigan Capitol Confidential, Cook lays out to public school employees the union’s plans to fight Michigan's new right-to-work law. Cook also discusses why recall efforts won't likely be part of the MEA's future plans.
"We tried the 'send the message' route when Rep. Paul Scott was recalled, but the response from the ideologues was to double down on their attacks," Cook wrote.
MEA Spokesman Doug Pratt didn't respond to a request for comment.
The letter shows a different perspective about the MEA’s views on recall efforts on politicians than has been put forth by the union to the media.
MLive reported that Cook said during an interview on public television that he didn’t regret the decision to support recalling Scott. The MEA donated $25,000 to support the recall effort.
But in the memo, Cook wrote that recalls are not likely to happen.
"If the goal is to undo RTW, this is the least appealing of all the options," Cook wrote.
Cook said there would have to be as many as 14 recalls and each would cost between $500,000 to $1.3 million.
"We simply don’t have the PAC money to fund one of those races — let alone the dozen plus races described above," he wrote.
The MEA would "likely be on its own" and without support from other unions if recalls were attempted, Cook said.
Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, said the MEA's decision to use its money to support Scott’s recall "angered a lot of people in Lansing. … It certainly poisoned the working relationship with the MEA and Republicans in the House and the Senate who were attempting to work with them."
Sen. Jones said he couldn't say the recall effort affected efforts to pass the right-to-work law.
Cook also discussed three options to challenge right-to-work through litigation. He wrote that the union could challenge it as a violation of the open meetings act because some votes were taken while the Capitol was "under lock down."
The state's unions and Democrats claimed that the public was not allowed in to the Capitol and therefore violated state law. Capitol police said the building was at capacity and more protesters were not allowed to be let in.
"The legal question that's being investigated is whether that's enough to strike down the entire Act," Cook wrote.
Opponents of the law also say it could be challenged as unconstitutional.
Cook said the MEA probably wouldn't question why police and fire were made exempt to RTW. He wrote that challenging that aspect of the law may lump police and fire back in the RTW law.
"The long and short of it is, the litigation angle should not be relied on to overturn the Act," Cook wrote.