As part of the continued legislative attack on public school employees and their unions, the House introduced a four-bill package (HB 5023-5026) that deals with strikes, picketing, dues deduction and the hiring of scabs. The bills were referred to the House Committee on Oversight, Reform and Ethics.
SB 618was reported out of the Senate Education Committee this afternoon and now moves to the full Senate. SB 618 allows the outsourcing/privatization of teachers and removes the cap on charter schools.
Committee members voted 3-2 on the bill and on a substitute amendment that broke the tie-bar between SB 618 and SB 624which mandates schools of choice.
In testimony before the Senate Education Committee on SB 618-624, State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said that while our education system was outdated and needed an overhaul, most teachers aren’t the problem. They’re just the scapegoats who—surprisingly—are feeling “bashed.”
“Teachers can be allies in reinventing education in Michigan, but when I’ve talked about the need for reforms, sometimes it’s taken as an indictment of teachers. People will resist change if they think we’re bashing them,” said Flanagan.
On a 64-44 vote, the House also passed HB 4770 and 4771 today that would prohibit public employers from providing domestic partner medical benefits and makes it a prohibited subject of bargaining. The bill now moves to the Senate.
On a close 55-53 vote today, the House passed HB 4929 which prohibits the deduction of union dues by public school employers. The bill was fast-tracked through the House after being introduced Tuesday. The bill now goes to the Senate where SB 636, a comparable bill introduced by Sen. Meekhof (R-West Olive) on Sept. 8 sits.
Rep. Haveman (R-Holland), sponsor of the bill, said the legislation isn’t an attack on teachers. “It allows them to have more money in their pockets and that’s a good thing.”
At a televised town hall meeting in Grand Rapids, Gov. Snyder repeated his message that Right to Work isn't on his agenda but this time in what in response to a question about Rep. Richardville's "right to teach" legislation.
HB 4929, which prohibits the deduction of union dues by public school employers, is on a fast track since it was moved from the House Oversight, Ethics and Reform Committee yesterday. It has been referred to second reading on the House Floor and may move to third reading today with final passage on Thursday.
Sen. Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) introduced a similar bill--SB 636--on Sept. 8.
Introduced by Rep. John Haveman (R-Holland), HB 4929 was approved on a 4-2 party-line vote. In support of his own bill, Haveman testified that schools shouldn’t be in the business of collecting dues. The bill specifically says the dues deduction is a “prohibited contribution to the administration of a labor organization.” The Michigan Chamber of Commerce endorsed the bill but did not testify.
In addition to Senate Bills 618-624, which would increase the number of charter schools, privatize teachers and allow for back-door school vouchers, both chambers have introduced legislation that would prohibit school districts from automatically deducting union dues from members' paychecks.
In what is probably one of the most blatant examples of anti-union, anti- school employee legislation yet, Sen. Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) says he supports right-to-work legislation that only affects public school employees and will have legislation ready soon.
In support of what looks like political payback for MEA’s recall efforts, Richardville said on PBS’s Off the Record, “The teachers union—specifically the Michigan Education Association—have lost their way and public school employees should no longer be forced to join them.”
Richardville singled out teachers unions because he claimed they haven’t recognized the state’s tough economic times like other unions have.
MEA President Steve Cook responded in a press statement this morning, “Republican leaders have slashed school funding, increased taxes, stripped collective bargaining rights from school employees, forced them to pay more out-of-pocket for retirement and health insurance. They’ve completely undermined and demoralized the educators of this state.”