News Story

Teachers Union Promotes Website Telling Dissident Member 'Go to Hell'

MEAMatters posts personal attacks on teacher who wants to leave union

The Michigan Education Association is directing people to a website that insults and vilifies a 37-year member who authored a widely distributed letter explaining why she wants to leave the state’s largest teachers union.

Lansing School District teacher Mary Davenport wrote a letter that was sent to thousands of teachers to alert them that if they want to quit the union it would only allow them to do so in the month of August. Many teachers have complained about this so-called August window.

Since Davenport’s letter was distributed, the website has invited union members to respond online. The website states, “Do your best to be civil, but take this chance to tell the world why you won’t freeload. We’ll use your name only if you want.” apparently has a loose defintion of "civil." One of the letters it published tells Davenport to “Go to hell” and calls her “one incompetent moron.”

That letter was signed by Rob Ritter, who identifies himself as a “mathematics teacher, forensics co-director and proud union member.” Walled Lake Consolidated School District has a Rob Ritter who is a geometry teacher and is listed as the coach of the Walled Lake Northern High School forensics team. did not respond to a message left on its Facebook account. Ritter did not respond to two emails sent to his school account over a four-day period. Walled Lake Consolidated Schools Superintendent Kenneth Gutman did not respond to a request for comment.

Davenport said she was offended by the attacks on her, specifically one telling her to “go to hell.”

“He’s being a bully,” Davenport said. “And that’s really not the role model you want as a teacher. To say, ‘Go to hell.’ It’s really a negative tone. It’s really offensive to me that his intellectual ability has to go down to that level.”

The veteran teacher said the MEA has been treating her with disrespect for a while.

“That’s how they have treated me,” Davenport said. “That’s been their tone to me. Try to keep it civil? It’s like they are promoting it. But it’s appalling that they want to attack me on this level for having an opinion. Aren’t you entitled to your opinion?” The MEA did not respond to emails seeking comment.

This is not the first time the union has been accused of bullying members who choose to opt out, now that participation is no longer compulsory following Michigan's adoption of a right-to-work law. Davenport hasn’t been able to opt out because a week before the law took effect the school district and union extended their contract through 2018, avoiding the law for five years. The MEA has sent collection agencies after union members who haven’t paid dues. It has also posted in newsletters the names of union members who opted out.

The MEA has had mixed responses to insulting its own members. In 2014, union Vice President Nancy Strachan told a Lansing TV station the MEA avoids the term “freeloader” – a derogatory term for union members who opt out. But MEA President Steve Cook used variations of the word “freeload” eight times in one news release posted on the union's website.


See also:
Union Tries to Shame Ex-Members

Union Website Warns About Bullying, But Members Who Opted Out Report Being Bullied

MEA Sends Collections Agency After Another Member Trying To Leave

MEA Prez and VP should talk

MEA Launches Personal Attack Against Dissident Teacher, Releases Confidential Information