News Bite

Teacher Claimed Right-To-Work Would Make Workers Powerless, But He’s Getting 42% More Since 2014

On Dec. 9, 2012, public school teacher Greg Talberg wrote a letter to the editor of the Detroit Free Press to criticize a right-to-work law that had just passed the state Legislature. The new law made it illegal for employers to require employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

Talberg wrote: “Without powerful unions, middle-class workers are powerless to demand fair wages and benefits. In a system driven by greed, the only way to get fair wages is to demand and bargain them collectively; they won’t simply be given based on a sense of justice on the part of management.”

Talberg is an activist and a teacher at Howell Public Schools who writes op-eds for various websites and has been appointed to an education commission by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. His gross pay as a teacher was $57,804 in 2014, and it grew to $81,834 in 2021, up 42% over seven years. The gross pay includes any extra money Talberg made while performing extra duties.

In the years since right-to-work became law here, the number of dues-paying members in the statewide teachers union to which Talberg belongs has plummeted 33%. The Michigan Education Association has lost some 40,000 members since the new law went into effect in 2013. The MEA’s statewide membership ranks include teachers, education support staffers and some higher education employees.

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.