Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Report on Thursday's News on Right to Work Legislation

Today (Thursday, Nov. 29th) there was a large contingency of statewide MEA members and staff who met at the Capitol building to lobby Michigan senators and house representatives regarding the Right to Work legislation that I wrote about in the post below! (Be sure to read this to understand the serious consequences the passage of this legislation would have!)

As an MEA member and WLEA member I was most grateful for the number of people, in concert with AFL-CIO members and others,  who were there protecting the rights of the middle class to join together to have their voices heard!  It was a true demonstration of democracy at work……as a former social studies teacher, it truly was our government working as it should!

Thank you everyone here in Walled Lake who called and wrote Governor Snyder and their representatives urging them to reconsider their votes on the RTW bill.

The results of today?  It is being reported by MIRS News Agency that RTW is being set aside for more conversations to be able to occur.  The Governor met with labor leaders, including the MEA president, yesterday, and was meeting with the Republican leaders of the legislature today while union members waited in the vestibule outside his office in the capitol building.   The report from that meeting is that RTW would not be considered this week, and the governor wants Republican leaders and labor leaders to speak together.  There are some rumors of a proposal of RTW-lite…..meaning that the legislature would only apply the law to public employees…..which would be highly unacceptable.

In any case, I truly believe everyone's efforts over the last few days and today resulted in the government's slow-down in passing this legislation.   Another lobby day is being planned for next Tuesday when the issue is expected to resurface.  It was very clear today that the Governor and others are anticipating that this issue is volatile.  Personally, I saw no hostility, only very sincere people who only wanted to speak to their government representatives.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

“Right to Work” legislation is being pushed by the leadership of the Michigan legislature despite even Republican Governor Snyder’s urgings to not attempt this in Lame Duck Session. 

What is “Right to Work” legislation? In a paper written by Rolan Zullo, Research Scientist at theInstitute for Labor and Industrial Relations at the University of Michigan, the term “Right to Work” (to be called RTW from now on) is a misnomer.  It has nothing to do with a person’s right  work.   It has everything to do with what Zullo calls union “security” clauses.  These clauses are in contracts of employers with unions and create what we call “union shops” in Michigan.  These laws require all employees that benefit from union representation to belong to the union, or at least be “fee payers”. (Fee Payers pay approximately the same dues as other union members, but their money can go to charity.  They do NOT belong to the union).  The logic behind this provision is that the employer has recognized the union as the representatives of the employee group and EVERYONE, union member or not, benefits from the stipulations of the contract, wages, and benefits that are bargained by the union.

Right to Work supporters believe that individuals should not be required to financially support any collective unions against their will.   However, as Zullo points out, union membership benefits are indisputable.  He sites evidence that union workers earn wages that are “10 to 40 percent higher than non-union counterparts.”  It is easy to see why employERS want RTW legislation!  They can pay you 10 to 40% less AND they can manipulate the rules to their purposes and/or fire you for ANY cause.   To read this paper go to:

A union also has contractual features that spell out provisions that protect members from getting fired without cause and provide protections and remedies for members to use in a host of situations.  Without these provisions, an employee would be “at will”; meaning they could be discharged for any reason.

Obviously, the legislation passed this last year has weakened the power of the unions in Michigan, but as MIRS News states, the “RTW” laws are meant to be a “kill shot” to the unions in retaliation for their pursuit of Proposal 2 in November’s election.

The new Democratic House Minority Leader, Tim Greimel of Pontiac, has warned the Republican majority that they will lose any support from the Democratic House members for any new legislation, and in addition, they will not vote to support Jase Bolger’s appointment to the Speaker of the House leadership.  In the past, all parties have voted to support the appointment of the Speaker of the House even if they are not of the same party to signal a bipartisanship.  MIRS News is reporting that by not voting for Bolger, the House is a bid to “humiliate” Bolger and the Republican party.
I personally do not know if the Republican party that is currently in power is capable of humility, however I am very happy to see the Democratic caucus in the House willing to stand behind Labor and make a BOLD statement in support of our rights to organize, despite the failure of Proposal 2.

What can we do?  WRITE Governor Snyder at the email address below.  Put in your information and then copy and paste the message I have included at the end of this posting OR you may send your own personal message.

The TIME TO DO THIS IS NOW!  RTW looks like it will be rolled out this week and voted on next TUESDAY, December 4th!

Here is a suggested message for Governor Snyder:
Governor Snyder,
Please tell the House Leadership to not pursue Right to Work legislation in the coming weeks.  This legislation is detrimental to the work force of Michigan.  While it seems the House leadership deems it to be beneficial to employers, this legislation is very devisive and will be destructive to the hard workers in the state of Michigan.  Employees should have a say in their conditions of employment and the employer has every ability to bargain with a union membership to come to fair terms for both parties.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

TAKE ACTION on the Governor's "School Finance" Proposal!

Fellow WLEA members,
This blog is about information THAT YOU MUST TAKE ACTION on!!!!

It is about the governor’s new “School Finance Reform” proposal that he had completed by the “Oxford Foundation” that is run by a man named Richard McLellan.  The governor calls it his “Any Time, Any Way, and At Any Pace” plan.  Neat title, but this plan is anything BUT that. 

**Although it was originally known as House Bill 5923, this is probably NOT going to have to go through the legislature.  The governor can make it part of his budget.

***It is a new way of distributing existing money….there is no NEW money.

****It is considered a “choice” plan……but it is a fancy name for voucher.  However, per pupil funding is not tied to a district, it could be split in as many ways as a student might want to choose many different options that are proposed.  Choices are “unbundled”.

For instance, a student could pick all or anything from the following list of options: early college classes, total online option, choose individual classes at a number of different schools, or could choose to attend a combination of schools (traditional, cyber, charter, commercial).  One school would be a “district of record”, but the per pupil funding would be split into as many parts as a student’s choice of options.

It calls for the 180 days of required schooling to be spread across the entire calendar year.

The proposal allows municipal schools, employer based schools, cultural organization schools, single gender schools, out-of-state schools, or international academies, for example.  Home school and non-public schools can receive money for students on the same basis as public schools.


Transportation is not required to be funded, so these choices may be limited to those who can get their own transportation.  This implies that it could easily become a plan only the economically-able will be able to take part in.  Only a small subset of students would be able to truly choose or truly be able to attend.  I have to wonder if schools will become groups of those who can handle/afford choice and those who are not able to afford or arrange their own travel to different "choices"?

Another part of this plan is to allow “adjunct instructors”.  People can become an adjunct instructor through a separate certification method than you as teachers now follow.

Tax payer money could be and will be going to private organizations.

Part of the governor’s plan awards students up to $10,000 in scholarship money for graduating early.  There is NO extra money provided for this, so where will that money come from?  It will come from per pupil funding for the rest of the students in Michigan.  Thus, defunding their education.

This plan includes proposals for educational methods that are not proven to be effective and the bill includes NO accountability for other “choices”.  This is tax money is being thrown to who knows what….

This takes the current per pupil funding from the state and reduces the share given to individual districts because no new funding is being provided.   This will mean that public schools will have LESS money to spend on students that remain as full time students in their home schools.

The Oakland County Intermediate District Superintendent, Vickie Markavitch, calls it “radical and dangerous”.  She says, "..a radical experiment, untried, unproven, and dangerous.  There is no plan to have accountability follow the child, no quality standards before opening the door to any and all school operators…..”.  

The superintendents of Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne County have joined together to form a group called the “Tri-County Alliance”.  They have put together a website and method by which people can ADVOCATE for PUBLIC EDUCATION.  It is open to everyone!

Please help to PROTECT PUBLIC EDUCATION, keep local control, and keeping tax dollars out of corporate hands!  Go to the Tri-County Alliance site and sign up using your home email!  They will alert you and give you tools to use to contact your legislators and other stakeholders regarding the governor’s proposal.  It is called, “Tri-County CapWiz”.

Here’s the url:

Monday, November 19, 2012

From the AFL-CIO

 Protect your right to a voice in state government!!! 

Stop Right to Work for Less

Right to Work for Less legislation is likely to move through the Michigan Legislature during this lame duck session, unless you contact your legislators to stop it.
Each person that benefits directly from union representation should pay their fair share of the cost of that representation − plain and simple. There is ample economic evidence that so-called Right to Work states actually fare worse than states where workers have the freedom to form strong unions.
Please click here to sign the online petition!  CLICK HERE

Monday, November 5, 2012

Election Day Tomorrow

As much as everyone is exhausted and probably irritated about the election information, quite frankly, this is one of the most important elections for educators that I can ever remember.  Please don't let the MEA come back on Wednesday and says, only 48% of the members voted, as they did after the last election..... 
Please read my blog from Friday (below) and please SCREAM!

If you haven't already voted, try this url to get voter recommendations from the MEA:

Secondly, Cyndi Austin, our MEA Uniserve Director, is looking for voting poll workers for Tuesday anywhere from 3 to 8.   If you can help out, please call Cyndi at 248-553-8198.

Friday, November 2, 2012

SCREAM "STOP" on Tuesday!

Dear Fellow WLEA members,

The election is Tuesday and I am sure that hasn’t escaped anyone’s attention!!!  In my opinion, educators have more to win and/or lose tied to the results of what happens that day than any other group in Michigan.

No one can have missed the Proposal 2 propaganda…….and that’s just what it is.  There are ads out there for both sides.  However, we as individuals can make the biggest difference by talking to just 1 or 2 other people and convincing them to vote yes on Proposal 2.   If 1.5 million union workers in Michigan talk to 2 other people, we will have 4.5 million people behind this proposal.

Please remember the bargaining rights and individual rights you have lost due to the laws passed by the Michigan legislature over the last year.  You have lost the right to bargain your evaluation procedure, lay off and recall procedures, discipline, and anything to do with placement. 

Ask yourself - Should the procedures for these issues be left in the hands of legislators in Lansing who haven’t been in a classroom in 25 or more years?  Should these procedures be left in the hands of legislators that refuse to listen to your voices?  That refuse to let parents talk at a meeting?  That silence women legislators?  That fast –gavel  votes for “immediate effect” to deny the public the right of referendum?

If nothing else, their lack of adherence to the tenants of democracy and a representative republic should cause one to step up and scream STOP!!!!

This is what your vote for Proposal 2 should be about!