State House removes RTW penalties from education budgets

Michigan House Republican leaders Tuesday stripped away penalties they earlier inserted into K-12, higher education and community college appropriations bills that would have punished these institutions for legally negotiating “fair share” agreements with their employees.

Between last December’s passage of the so-called “right-to-work” bills and the laws’ March 28 effective date, many school districts, colleges and universities negotiated fair share agreements with their employee associations. The agreements require that employees who benefit from union representation pay their fair share toward the cost of representation. Michigan’s new right-to-work law bans fair share agreements, but only for contracts not in place by March 28.

The House Appropriations Committee initially voted to eliminate grants for K-12 districts, penalize universities by 15 percent and not increase funds for community colleges — all because they followed they followed the law and negotiated in good faith with school employees.

The state Senate passed education budgets two weeks ago that did not include the penalties.

“It’s unfortunate that language got put out there in the first place,” state Rep. Sean McCann, D-Kalamazoo, told the MIRS Capitol newsletter Wednesday. “It scared some people off. It had the bullying effect they hoped it would have. And now, it’s not necessary anymore.”