Michigan Education Association is down 37,000 members in a decade

Teachers union has dropped to under 80,000 members

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Lansing, noted on X that she has gotten the endorsement of the Michigan Education Association, the largest school employees union in the state. Slotkin said that the MEA “represents nearly 120,000 hardworking teachers, education support professionals, and higher-education employees across Michigan.”

But those numbers are no longer accurate.

While the union had nearly 120,000 active members a decade ago, the state’s right-to-work law, which was enacted in 2012, has severely cut union membership. Now that school employees have a choice, MEA membership has plummeted. Since 2012, the number of active MEA members has dropped from 117,265 down to 79,839.

That’s a decline of more than 37,000, or 32%. And this drop has happened despite a significant increase in the number of school employees in Michigan.

The total membership of both of Michigan’s teacher’s unions, the Michigan Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers Michigan, has dropped from about 145,000 in 2012 to 95,000 last year. 

This year, the Michigan Legislature voted to repeal the state’s right-to-work law. But due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME, government workers — including public school employees — still operate in a right-to-work environment. The U.S. Constitution protects public employees from being forced to join or pay dues or fees to a labor union in order to hold a job.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.