Michigan’s Largest Teachers Union Funds Leftist Activist Group

Michigan Education Association gave Progress Michigan $71,000 this year

Lonnie Scott, executive director, Progress Michigan. Photo via Progress Michigan.

Progress Michigan bills itself as “a communications team and media hub for the entire progressive community.” But the composition of the group’s board and identity of some of its major contributors suggest that the liberal nonprofit is more of a communications team for government employee unions.

Required informational filings released by the Michigan Education Association this week show the teachers union gave Progress Michigan $71,000 in 2016-17. In 2014, Progress Michigan took $67,000 from the National Education Association, the MEA’s national union home.

Three of the six members of Progress Michigan’s board are officials in government employee unions. They include Doug Pratt, the MEA’s public affairs director, Bob Allison, executive director of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Michigan State Council, and Georgi-Ann Bargamian, a regional director of the United Auto Workers. The UAW represents thousands of Michigan state government employees.

Progress Michigan has posted articles critical of school choice, which is a major issue with the MEA.

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"We're proud to have the support of teachers who are working every day to provide a quality education for every Michigan student as opposed to the Mackinac Center and this publication which simply does the bidding of anti-education zealots, the DeVos family,” said Progress Michigan’s Executive Director Lonnie Scott in an email.

Scott also focuses a good deal of the organization’s efforts on criticizing “wealthy GOP donors” in the media and other outlets. The organization’s slogan used to be, “No corporate money. Uncompromised progressive politics for Michigan.”

Interestingly, the “No corporate money” part has disappeared from Progress Michigan’s current branding.


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The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a free market, non-partisan educational institute workings towards a freer and fairer government. Our main focuses are in the following policy areas: Fiscal, Education, Energy and Environment, Labor, and Criminal Justice. Learn more at www.mackinac.org/issues

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