By Kyle Olson
EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Education Association always portrays itself as the poor, pitiful victim.
It was the victim when the legislature passed relatively mild education reforms. It was the victim when its ballot proposal to enshrine collective bargaining in the state constitution was soundly defeated by voters Nov. 6.
Now the union is wringing its hands over a rumored Right to Work proposal that may be introduced and debated in the state legislature during the lame duck session.
On Tuesday, the union pressed the panic button and issued a screed to its members via email:
“With just a few weeks left in the Legislative session, right-wing politicians in Lansing are looking to exact political revenge against union members by ramming through dangerous bills that will harm school employees, middle-class families and children throughout Michigan.
“Their reckless agenda includes:
- Undermining workers’ rights by passing so-called “right-to-work” legislation
- Instituting voucher-style “reform” of our public schools
- Cutting taxes even further for corporate special interests
“These extremist legislators must be stopped immediately. The Working Michigan coalition is holding events across our state tonight and tomorrow night to help mobilize union members and supporters in the effort to fight back.”
It’s hard to feel sorry for this group of tin-horned gangsters. They were in a good position and they got too greedy.
Gov. Rick Snyder has been criticized for not being tough enough on public sector unions like the MEA. He went out of his way during the union-led kerfuffle in Wisconsin to say he did not want the same type of showdown in Michigan. He, without provocation, essentially called any meaningful labor reform dead on arrival.
But the unions’ attempted power grab – Proposal 2 – apparently changed all that.
The unions broke the apparent truce with a proposed constitutional amendment that would have repealed all of Snyder’s education reforms and allowed collective bargaining agreements to trump state law. MEA officials (and their allies) stood before cameras, thumped their chests and declared they would spend $25 million to pass the amendment.
They failed, and now the Right to Work folks are out in force, hoping to capitalize on the union defeat.
So now the unions are attempting to marshal their forces in an effort to protect their last bastions of power: compulsory union membership and automatically deducted dues. A Right to Work law would eliminate those union lifelines.
If it is indeed introduced, Right to Work legislation it would likely come to a vote. The antics of Democrats legislators in Wisconsin, who fled the state in 2011 to prevent a vote on anti-union legislation, could not be replicated. Michigan law gives power to the Speaker of the House to order the state police to round up legislators, even across international lines.
We have to wonder if the MEA regrets breaking the truce with the Snyder administration and pushing for passage of Proposal 2. They’ve talked their way into a dangerous corner and they’re not sure how they’re going to manage to escape.