Michigan, Florida go in opposite directions on paycheck protection for teachers

A tale of two states: Florida is growing and becomes freer as Michigan shrinks and caters to special interests.

It’s not every day that Michigan is the example for other states to follow.

But that’s what happened this month when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed paycheck protection for public school teachers into law. Michigan already has a paycheck protection law on the books: Public Act 53 of 2012.

In Michigan, and now Florida, a public school teacher who wants to pay a union must cut a check to that union.

It’s a bitter twist of politics and history that as Florida enacts a policy that has worked for Michigan, Michigan is on the verge of getting rid of it.

The Michigan legislature is in the process of repealing Public Act 53. Democrats hold all the gavels in Lansing and cannot be stopped.

The Mackinac Center, along with its Florida counterpart, the James Madison Institute, helped get paycheck protection passed in Florida.

Lindsay Killen, who holds leadership roles in both think tanks, spoke about the effort with the Mackinac Center’s Dave Bondy.

With paycheck protection, “the state says ‘we’re done being the bill collector,’” Killen said. In her role with Workers For Opportunity, Killen said she works to help states understand their “union problem.”

If Florida is moving past its union problem, Michigan’s is stalking the state like a zombie. However slowly it staggers, it’s never fully out of sight. And now it’s gaining speed.

House Bill 4233 would repeal Michigan’s paycheck protection law, diverting government schools from their duty to teach reading, writing and arithmetic so they can spend time and resources collecting union dues.

Read it for yourself: House Bill 4233

Related reading: Michigan House bill lets government schools deduct union dues from paychecks

In the Florida version of paycheck protection, teachers unions have to recertify every year by proving they have the support of 60% of workers covered. The threshold has been lower, at just 50% plus one, Killen said.

A story on the website Florida Politics attacked DeSantis for signing the bill, claiming the law is “chipping away at teachers unions.” It also quoted DeSantis, who offered a spirited defense:

“The school unions have become very partisan — that’s not what schools are about,” DeSantis said, also raising the “forced masking” of students during the emergency. “What we saw during COVID … they sued me to try to close the schools. And then you saw in other parts of the country, those unions were successful in locking kids out of school not just for weeks, not just for months, but in some cases for a year or more.”

Michigan’s House Labor Committee approved the bill at its Thursday meeting, with a recommendation that the full House do the same. If the House and Senate pass the bill in identical forms and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signs it, Michigan will have moved backward in paycheck protection for teachers.

Next up: House Bill 4235, which would make Michiganders pay their neighbors’ union dues by making those dues tax refundable.

Michigan and Florida make a tale of two states.

Florida is becoming freer and growing bigger.

Michigan under Democratic rule is less a state than a friends-and-family plan for organized labor and green-pork-seeking corporations. Our leaders have given up on growth and spend their days dividing a shrinking pie.

James David Dickson is managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential. Email him at

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.