News Story

Union President Wants Teachers Paid ‘What They’re Worth’

But union contracts just rewarded a regional teacher of the year with five years of no raises

In a recent op-ed, the president of Michigan’s second largest teachers union stated, “One thing we know for certain is that we need to start paying educators what they’re worth ...”

The opinion piece by David Hecker, president of the American Federation of Teachers-Michigan, appeared in the May 4 edition of The News-Herald of Sterling Heights.

Hecker’s statement is ironic because teacher contracts negotiated by the union he heads base pay almost entirely on just two factors. These are a teacher’s seniority and the number of college credits and credentials the teacher has acquired. The same is true for contracts negotiated with public school districts by the state’s largest teachers union, the Michigan Education Association.

A good example of how this works comes in the pay history of Barbara Huston, a teacher at Saginaw Township Community Schools. In 2020-21, Huston was selected as one of the state’s 10 regional teachers of the year.

In 2014, her gross pay was $72,313, and by 2020, her pay was $72,334 — an increase of $21.

Huston has 24 years of teaching experience, and her pay, as is true of many veteran teachers who reach the top of the union pay scale, has become stagnant.

The teachers union contract for Huston and her colleagues stipulates that after 14 years of experience, teachers get a pay increase only every five years.

So after 24 years on the job, Huston was named one of the state’s best teachers, and the union contract rewarded her with five years of no pay increases.

At the state level, school reformers in the Legislature and elsewhere have advocated for paying teachers what they’re worth according to an objective measure — how well the children they teach do on state tests. Those efforts have been fiercely opposed by both teachers unions and the public school establishment.


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.