By Steve Gunn
LANSING, Mich. – A new state right-to-work law is scheduled to liberate thousands of Michigan employees in less than six weeks.
But unions throughout the state are working to keep their members in chains by negotiating last-minute collective bargaining deals.
That trend seems to be particularly common in public schools. Teacher union officials in the Utica, Plymouth-Canton, Dearborn and Detroit school districts are working to get new contracts, or contract extensions, before the right-to-work law takes effect March 27.
More local teachers unions are probably attempting similar strategies. “A large number” of unions are currently in negotiations with school boards, according to Doug Pratt, spokesman for the Michigan Education Association.
The new law says that no employee in any industry can be forced to join a labor union, or maintain financial payments to a union, against their will. But the law exempts workplaces with existing collective bargaining agreements until those agreements expire.
By clamoring for new or extended contracts, the teachers unions are simply trying to keep their members trapped, and their union dues flowing in, for at least a few more years. By then they are hoping that a union-friendly governor and state legislature will be elected and the right-to-work law will be repealed.
There are many union members in Michigan schools who were forced to join as a condition of employment and are looking forward to their freedom. Those employees should go to their local school boards and demand that a caveat be included in any new labor contract, allowing them to resign from their unions as soon as the law changes.
The right-to-work law was passed to benefit employees who do not prefer to be union members. Teachers unions and school boards should not be allowed to steal this opportunity from them.