So-called “Right to Work” is wrong for Michigan

Statement from MEA President Steven Cook on introduction of Senate Bill 729

EAST LANSING, Mich., Oct. 6, 2011 — The following statement can be attributed to MEA President Steven Cook in response to today’s introduction of a bill that would apply so-called “Right to Work” laws only to school employees represented by the Michigan Education Association:

“So-called ‘Right to Work’ efforts – whether they apply only to school employees or to all workers in this state – are the wrong approach to helping Michigan’s economy. This is an incredibly divisive issue that will do nothing to create jobs or help students.

“According to MIRS, Senate Bill 729 would have this misleading law ‘only apply to schools that have the Michigan Education Association (MEA) as the bargaining unit.’ That raises some simple questions.

“What does this have to do with helping students?  With creating jobs?  With helping our economy recover?

 “In short, nothing. According to research released last month by the non-partisan Economic Policy Institute, ‘Right to Work FOR LESS’ won’t create jobs and will actually reduce wages for all workers in this state – union or non-union. We know it won’t put more teachers in our classrooms or keep support staff on the job serving students.

“This isn’t about people being forced to join a union – the law already prevents that. What this bill actually does is allow for individuals to choose not to pay for services they receive under their collectively bargained contract. Instead of paying their fair share, they could ‘freeload,’ receiving the same representation and benefits as their colleagues while sticking others with the bill.

“Instead of pushing a corporate special interest agenda – which included a $1 billion cut for public education to pay for a $1.8 billion tax break for corporations and CEOs – lawmakers in Lansing should focus on investing in the public schools that prepare our workforce and attract jobs to Michigan.

“MEA calls on Governor Snyder to stand up for our kids, not CEOs. Take a stand for our middle class and our public schools. Don’t just tell the Legislature that this isn’t on your agenda. Tell them you oppose these Right to Work FOR LESS schemes – whether aimed at one group or at all workers – and that you’ll veto any such bill that hits your desk.”