Showdown in Michigan as legislature debates right-to-work laws

posted at 10:01 am on December 11, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.  I remember this when it was called Madison in early 2011.  Unions screaming that forcing workers to fund their coffers represented the ideal of freedom, while teachers called in sick but managed to look pretty healthy marching around a state capitol building while yelling at the top of their lungs about the benefits of forced dues extraction.

Ah, nostalgia:

Missing teachers?  Check:

At least 26,000 children will miss school today because their teachers called in sick or took a vacation day to protest proposed right-to-work legislation, which is expected to pass today.

Warren Consolidated Schools, Taylor School District and Fitzgerald Public Schools are confirmed to be closed. It is also suggested that schools in Detroit and St. Johns may be missing a significant number of teachers.

“We’ve had an excessive number of teachers call in,” Warren district spokesperson Robert Freehan said Monday afternoon. “We’re concerned about the safety and security of the students, so we’re treating it as a snow day.”

Ben Lazarus is a school board member-elect for Warren Consolidated. He believes the district, but not the teachers, made the right call.

“I think that political agendas shouldn’t take precedence over student learning,” said Lazarus.

Oh, how quaint. Remember when teachers unions were more concerned about their students than about their political power?  Yeah, neither do I, but it’s still kind of cute to talk about those mythical times.

Michigan Capitol Confidential lao has some insight as to why Michigan voters might not be too terribly positive about forced dues extraction (via Instapundit):

For example, according to the most recent federal filings, the Michigan Education Association — the state’s largest labor union — received $122 million and spent $134 million in 2012. They averaged about $800 from each of their 152,000 members.

According to union documents, “representational activities” (money spent on bargaining contracts for members) made up only 11 percent of total spending for the union. Meanwhile, spending on “general overhead” (union administration and employee benefits) comprised of 61 percent of the total spending.

So MEA members who disagree with the leadership of the union are paying up to 90 percent of their dues, but the union is only spending about a tenth of the dues money representing them.

If unions had to survive on customer and/or client satisfaction, would they survive?  Unions in Michigan may end up having to find that out.

Byron York reports on how the timing of this fight works well for Republicans, and spells doom for Democrats:

Democrats are complaining about the speed with which Republicans are acting, but the truth is, organized labor has seen this coming for a while. Stung by the success of Gov. Scott Walker’s efforts to limit collective bargaining in Wisconsin — Walker’s actions have resulted in more money, more teachers and better conditions in schools around the state — they tried to make sure it wouldn’t happen again. In Michigan, they pushed what was known as Proposal 2, which would have enshrined union collective bargaining powers in the state constitution. If Proposal 2 had passed, what state GOP lawmakers are doing now would have been literally unconstitutional.

But Proposal 2 was decisively defeated on Election Day, 58 percent to 42 percent. The path was clear for Republicans to act.

GOP lawmakers appear determined to keep going. When Levin and other congressional leaders urged caution, a spokesman for Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger hit back at them for “trying to tell Republicans in Michigan to slow down and not do our job in Lansing while they fail to resolve the nation’s fiscal cliff crisis or even approve a budget.” Hard to argue with that.


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liberals, ideas so good they are mandatory

burserker on December 11, 2012 at 1:19 PM

The next thing I’d like to see is unions taxed at corporate rates. They’re not charities, after all, but businesses instead. Unions are structured like corporations, and they provide services for a fee in the form of dues. So, if the Treasury needs more money, unions would be a great cash cow.

Liam on December 11, 2012 at 10:14 AM

Great idea!

cheeflo on December 11, 2012 at 1:56 PM

After watching a TV show on people who catch those big ol’ lizards for a living, I have such a hankering to try ‘gator meat it’s not even funny.

MelonCollie on December 11, 2012 at 10:36 AM

It’s yummy.

cheeflo on December 11, 2012 at 2:13 PM

We TEA Party MIGOP Delegates have been pushing hard for this since Snyder won, and with the GOP Elitists costing us this years elections due to pushing another RINO on us we’ve doubled down on our efforts to get this voted on.

This is just the beginning. We are also pushing for legislation that will stop contractors that use ILLEGAL Alien labor from getting State contracts

You can expect to hear about more TEA Party protests in the comming months. I’m certain the Republican ‘Leadership’ will be happy to see us out there again. /s

To the Willard bench warmers: See what can happen when you actually get involved? Perhaps instead of whining all of the time you too could make an actual difference.

DannoJyd on December 11, 2012 at 4:44 PM

DannoJyd on December 11, 2012 at 4:44 PM

Good job, DannoJyd

cptacek on December 11, 2012 at 6:04 PM

A Prison Guard Union official interviewed.

The same type of Union that funds additional funding towards the drug war.

Gee, why are Guard unions involved in something that doesn’t affect their workers safety and job security?

Oh wait, they want more prisoners and tax payer funds to increase.

V-rod on December 12, 2012 at 1:54 AM

So MEA members who disagree with the leadership of the union are paying up to 90 percent of their dues, but the union is only spending about a tenth of the dues money representing them.

Sounds pretty much like any day in the life of the US taxpayer vs. the government to me.

roy_batty on December 12, 2012 at 10:14 AM

The solution is simple…fire the ‘striking’ teachers and replace them with substitutes. If they don’t want to work, replace them with someone who is looking for a job.

I’ve worked in a lot of union shops and the union members were almost always the ‘8-hour loafs’ who needed someone else to protect them and help them get a job they weren’t qualified for, rather than get a job based on skills and ability.

A teacher’s primary responsibility is to teach, and it’s obvious from reported student performance metrics, that students aren’t learning. If teachers cannot do their job, fire them like any other employee who cannot perform the task they were hired to do and replace them with someone who can.

xmanvietnam on December 12, 2012 at 10:46 AM

Only 7% of Detroit’s public school 8th graders even read at an 8th grade level….and only 4% in math…..4%!
If my work production was at that level, I’d be out on my a$$ in a millisecond.
tencole on December 11, 2012 at 10:47 AM

Absolutely right. So much for our illustrious MI teachers and union members! They are lousy teachers and the children suffer. What are their appraisal standards? Jeez! Anyone ever check these people out? No wonder so many folks are home schooling their kids with bad reports like this. The whole nation should demand better teachers and make them qualify to higher standards than they obviously have now.

KCinLV on December 12, 2012 at 4:41 PM