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“Right to Teach” Legislation Gaining Steam in Michigan
posted by: Alix | September 22, 2011, 08:02 PM   

In light of the labor battles brewing across the country, compulsory unionism has become a hot topic among education advocates and teachers nearly nationwide. Gaining national headlines lately is the traditionally union-friendly state of Michigan, and their new "Right to Teach" legislation that seeks to end forced unionism for public school teachers.

Last week, the Michigan House of Representatives passed House Bill 4929 in an effort to eliminate forced unionism exclusively for public school teachers. The bill is now up for consideration in the Senate and if signed into law, would allow all teachers the right to choose or decline union membership.

Upon the bill's passage through the House, State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said he will support right-to-work for public school employees, coining the phrase "right-to-teach." Richardville further said teachers shouldn't be forced to join unions, such as the Michigan Education Association, and that just like other non-union groups the MEA "would have to recruit."

Michigan politicos insist that this legislation has been brewing for months. In the wake of declining state education funding, the MEA recently donated $25,000 toward the effort to recall State Representative Paul Scott who chairs the House Education Committee. Instead of working with legislators trying to operate in new budget realities, the MEA thought it necessary to use member dues to oust policymakers they didn't agree with. Insiders assert that the move sets the stage for HB 4929 and removing their most important asset– forced dues.

At AAE we make no secret of our opposition against forcing teachers to pay union dues as a condition of employment. As a professional association, and not a union, AAE members join voluntarily. We believe the union should operate under the same voluntary status and allow teachers to freely select an association that best suits their beliefs and budget. The Michigan Education Association, like all other NEA affiliates, should be held accountable to both member teachers and market forces.

However, the union knows what "Right to Teach" would mean to their nearly $2 billion business. For example, in 2009 alone, of the $2 billion in union dues collected by the teacher unions, $1.3 billion of those dues came from states with compulsory unionism. Union dues are highest in states where there is compulsory unionism – sometimes twice as much as compared to states where teachers have the option not to join the union. Presently, Michigan teachers pay nearly $900 a year just for the privilege of having a job. The numbers speak for themselves.

Hopefully in the months ahead, teachers in Michigan will finally be able to make those choices themselves.

Do you think Michigan's "Right to Teach" law will pass?
Comment below.

Comments (2)Add Comment
Special Educator
written by Allen california, September 22, 2011

Cali should do this too. Having initiated my teaching career in a RTW state I can speak from experience that RTW is clearly better. Only rapists and unions don't take "no" for an answer!
written by Shawn from Ohio, September 22, 2011

I wish Ohio would pass similar legislation without bundling it together with a million other things in SB5/Issue. Let us decide on each piece of legislation individually instead of an all or nothing approach.

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