Requiring Unions to Pay for Their Own Employees Saves Taxpayer Money

Senate Bill 280 takes union leaders off the public payroll

Should taxpayers be forced to pay for union leaders working on union business? Or should education dollars go to education?

Senate Bill 280, sponsored by Sen. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy, recently passed out of committee and will go to the full Senate. As noted by, the bill would “ban government employee union contracts that pay employees who are union officials for time they spend on the job conducting union business (which they call ‘release time’). Among other government employers, many public school districts give local union officials full teacher salary and benefits but do not require them to teach or perform any other educational function.”

The Mackinac Center compiled all the local union leaders who were paid by taxpayers while not working in the schools. This cost a very minimum of $2.7 million in 2011. We are currently updating that number and early results show many districts still have those special arrangements in their contracts.

A fiscal analysis of the bill says the savings to taxpayers is “indeterminate,” but it does not take into consideration how many contracts include release time provisions. It also ignores that this special deal means districts and taxpayers are paying twice – once for the union leader’s salary, and again to replace that person in the classroom while they work for the union. Savings to the state is only “indeterminate” if you ignore all the costs.

Taxpayers expect school funding to go to education. Not as a jobs program for unions.