News Bite

Teachers Union Head Should Know: Links Upset Parents With ‘Shaming, Intimidation And Bullying’

MEA president not happy with tense school board meetings on face masks and race-based curriculums

Paula Herbart is president of the Michigan Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union. She has weighed in on the tense local school board meetings that have been in the news when parents challenge the separate issues of face mask policies, and race-based curriculums.

“Public shaming, intimidation and bullying have no place in our society, especially when talking about dedicated educators and volunteer school board members committed to student success,” Herbart stated in an essay published by The Detroit News.

The MEA, however, itself used public shaming, intimidation and bullying when it went after its former union members who made choice to stop paying dues and quit the union when Michigan’s enacted a right-to-work law in 2012. The law makes it unlawful for employers to require workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

Public shaming: When union members opted out of belonging and paying dues to the union, many MEA affiliates posted their names on lists in lunch rooms, teacher lounges and in online newsletters.

Intimidation: When union employees opted out and stopped paying dues after right-to-work took effect, the MEA sought to ruin their credit by reporting nonpayment of (no longer mandated) dues to credit bureaus. The union also paid collection agencies to use bill collector practices on former union members who had opted out of paying the union, as authorized by the law, and therefore owed no union dues.

In another instance, a local union president interrupted the class of a teacher while delivering a letter stating she hadn’t paid dues, which she has no obligation to pay. Some union members were also sued for non-payment of dues by the MEA despite the right-to-work law.

Bullying: Former MEA President Steve Cook used name calling when he repeatedly referred to former union members who opted-out as “freeloaders” in media interviews. Other local MEA unions followed suit.

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.