‘Protect Our Jobs’ campaign protects collective bargaining, middle class

MEA members Karen Kuciel and Jeff Bean were part of the Protect Our Jobs campaign launch at the Capitol.

Today, MEA members Jeff Bean and Karen Kuciel joined with other workers to mark the launch of the Protect Our Jobs campaign, with the goal of amending Michigan’s constitution to protect collective bargaining rights and strengthen the middle class.

This campaign represents the most important effort that MEA has been involved in since the passing of the Public Employment Relations Act (PERA) that gave us collective bargaining rights in the 1960s. Our work now is to collect 332,000 valid signatures to prevent the erosion of those rights.

Lansing politicians are working on more than 80 bills that will weaken protections for working people and dismantle collective bargaining rights. Passage of this constitutional amendment will restrict the Legislature’s ability to impair collective bargaining rights, both in future bills and in those that are already law.

Jeff Bean, a Flint teacher echoed the historic move.

“I’m a lifelong Flint resident—where the history of the concept of collective bargaining began,” Bean said. “ Collective bargaining protects the rights of all workers against corporate interests that can and do fire workers; that can and do cut wages, eliminate retirement and health care; and that can and do outsource jobs.”

For Karen Kuciel, protecting her collective bargaining rights also means protecting Michigan students.

Kuciel, a 5th grade Warren teacher, has 32 students in her class—many of them learning English as their second language. With so many students, providing one-on-one attention becomes difficult.

“Collective bargaining rights give all workers a voice, and it gives me the tools to protect students in classes that are too large and protect teachers who are stretched too thin,” said Kuciel.

Details about MEA’s role in the campaign will be forthcoming through your local UniServ office. To learn more about the campaign, go to www.ProtectOurJobs.com.