Union in Taylor, MI tried to circumvent right-to-work law and lost

Labor Laws

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

In this post I mentioned that teachers in the City of Taylor, MI were suing to release the security clause which was the union’s attempt the force automatic dues payments for 10 years, regardless of what the law states.

The Michigan Employment Relations Commission ruled Friday that teachers in the Taylor Public School District are not bound by their contract to pay union dues for the next 10 years, saying the provision violates the state’s right-to-work law.

Michigan’s law, which took effect in 2013, makes it illegal to require employees to join a union or pay fees comparable to union dues as a condition of employment. A number of teachers unions negotiated new contracts shortly before the law took effect to avoid falling under the measure, which makes financially supporting a union voluntary.

The Employment Relations Commission ruled that the security clause violated the states right-to-work law provision of forcing dues payments. 

“For Taylor teachers, the ruling is clear that the extraordinary 10-year union security agreement should not bind the teachers,” Wilcox said. “They should be free to withdraw their financial support from the union. The commission held that Taylor Federation of Teachers’ and the Taylor School District’s action was intended to delay the application of PA 349 for 10 years beyond its legislatively mandated effective date.”

Wilcox said that other districts with similar contracts “should be very concerned about this decision, as it could easily be applied to them.”

The ruling reinstates the teacher’s ability and freedom to withdraw financial support of the union. The commission agreed that the provision was intended to circumvent the law that was likely to pass at the time.

I hope that other districts with similar contract provisions such as the security clause do follow in their footsteps and protect the worker’s right to withdraw financial support.

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You believe every lie your union tells you, don’t you?

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

I’ve been talking about the new right to work law in Michigan and the fall out from it in these two posts:

Teachers Union puts up smoke screen while they deny workers their rights

MEA attempts to ruin credit of 8,000 teachers

I just can’t believe the lies every time I read an article on this issue.

With the teachers given a 31-day window in August to decide, representatives for the state’s largest public-sector union are imploring them to stay or risk losing their clout in how schools are operated.

“If I don’t stand up and stay in my union, then we don’t have a voice,” said Chandra Madafferi, a high school health teacher and president of a 400-member local in the Detroit suburb of Novi.

Hmmm, OK. Lets read these two posts again:

WHY TEACHERS HAVE NO VOICE

Unions do what they want, without majority of teacher input

And, how about this one?

MEA attempts to ruin credit of 8,000 teachers

And tell me again what “voice” teachers are giving up by cancelling their union membership and keeping an extra $1,000 for themselves? They didn’t even have a voice to begin with, so how can they give it up?

A significant number of dropouts would deliver a financial blow to labor in a state where it has been historically dominant. Previously, employees in union-covered jobs were required to pay fees for bargaining and other services even if they didn’t want to belong.

“There is a lot at stake,” said Lee Adler, a lawyer who teaches labor issues at Cornell University and represents firefighters’ unions in New York. Public-sector unions, he said, “don’t have a history of being able to do massive recruitment of members who will voluntarily pay dues.”

Ah yes. It’s not actually about giving teachers a voice, it’s about….union dues! What I love the most about the this law is that it doesn’t allow the “collective bargaining fee” that non union members were required to pay previously, which was suspiciously similar to the actual amount of dues for a member.

Bingo – the reason I want teachers to pay the dues independently. If recruitment is much harder with voluntary dues, then maybe the union will actually have to change in ways that will attract teachers for the right reasons. Unions have been spending taxpayer dollars at will for too long!

With contracts covering roughly three-quarters of the 1,100 school workers’ bargaining units expiring, the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity bought a full-page ad in the Detroit Free Press with a form that teachers could send to their union to drop out. A free-market think tank has mailed reminder postcards about the Aug. 31 deadline.

“We are making sure that every eligible member who wants out of the union has the ability to do so,” said Vincent Vernuccio, director of labor policy for the Mackinac Center, which has worked in the Legislature to limit collective bargaining and promote charter schools.

Union officials charge that the group’s “desperate” campaign is aimed at union busting, not worker freedom.

“This is an organization bent on the destruction of not just this union but frankly of the public education system we all believe in,” said Doug Pratt, the state education association’s director of member and political engagement.

So while some groups are helping to provide information to help union members make their own decision (because remember the union was not educating their members adequately about the 31 day exit period) which actually does equate to worker freedom – MEA says the group is destroying public education as we see it.

I’m sorry first of all, they are simply informing teachers of their rights (something the union fails to do, but claims to protect teachers) which has nothing to do with destroying public education.

You know what is destroying public education? The MEA disenfranchising 8,000 teachers for forcing them to pay dues that the state already decided aren’t required. What has MEA done lately to improve public education. Alot of Nothing!

In Novi, Madafferi, 40, said she’s worried that some younger teachers won’t see the value of union membership. She said she has worked to explain the problem with “freeloading,” or benefiting from union negotiations without paying dues. Members pay up to $640 annually to the state union and $182 to the National Education Association, along with local dues.

As I said in this post, “A free-rider problem? Because workers benefit from the union’s contract negotiations and don’t have to pay. Someone PLEASE enlighten me about how the “collective bargaining fee” is calculated. If you are negotiating on behalf of 100 or 10,000 teachers do you really do more work? Free-rider problem, what a bunch of absolute baloney!”

Novi special education teacher Susan Bank, 60, said she plans to save the money, having gone several years without a raise.

“What am I getting for the over $1,000 in union dues I’m paying?” Bank said. “Now that we have the new law, the rules of the game have changed.”

Labor experts say Michigan unions will have to find other ways to demonstrate their value even though they still have collective bargaining power. In neighboring Wisconsin, more than one-third of teachers dropped their union membership after a 2011 law effectively ended collective bargaining for most public employees. But in right-to-work Alabama, nearly 80 percent of teachers voluntarily belong to the union and pay dues, said Adler.

Exactly. Unions in Michigan will have to demonstrate their value, just like any other benefit. The article notes that in right-to-work state Alabama, nearly 80% of teachers voluntarily pay their dues. Maybe MI needs to visit AL. I would say union presence is better in right-to-work states where the organizers actually have to work to get members voluntarily, instead of tax payers handing over cash directly to the union for doing very little work.

Teachers Union puts up smoke screen while they deny workers their rights

MEAheader102813_0

As I mentioned in this recent post, I’ve been promoting the idea that teachers should pay for union dues independently of the auto withdrawal from their paychecks. One twitter commentator mentioned that in Michigan this is happening! I started reading to see what how it has been unfolding.

Late in December 2012, Michigan State Legislature passed a law lifting the requirement for workers to pay union dues and the requirement to join the union.

As I watched the video clip above, a union worker states that she feels the law is taking away their rights. Their rights to what exactly? They may still join. They may still pay their dues. They may still have a union. The union may still collectively bargain. You know what does change? The automatic flow of cash from taxpayers to unions, circumventing the workers choices. From what I read in this piece about how teachers don’t have a voice in their unions, and my post on the issue, I’d say this new law provides and opportunity for the union to go back and listen to the other members and create better policy. This new laws gives more rights, the right to keep your money and not join a union.

Some teachers are already suing the union over their behavior towards this new law:

Their complaint alleges the union is violating the intent of the right-to-work law by only giving them a very brief period — the month of August — to drop their membership.

One of the eight, Coopersville teacher Miriam Chanski, told MEA in a May letter she was leaving the union. MEA denied her request because it was sent in too early.

She claims the union did not tell her this at the time. She only learned of the August opt-out window in September. That was when MEA informed her she would now have to pay another year’s dues.

“It surprised me that there would be more to the process — I had not heard anything else,” she told the local ABC affiliate.

It got worse for her when MEA said that if she didn’t continue to pay, they would report her to a collection agency, which would negatively affect her credit rating.

“My credit is very personal to me and it’s something I take pride in,” Chanski said.

Let’s keep in mind – the union is claiming that the new law is taking away workers rights…while the union is literally

  • Giving folks a 31 day window to leave the union
  • Denied a teacher who submitted her request to leave the union in May, which was too early. Then they did not inform her that she submitted her letter too early, until it was already September, claiming she owes another year’s dues.
  • AND, even though she tried to cancel her membership and the union failed to give her proper follow-up, if she doesn’t pay the dues, they will report her to a credit reporting agency which could have an impact on her credit score

WAIT A MINUTE!! Who is this union working for? Not this teacher. Not any teacher that doesn’t agree with the union. This sounds more like a cult, than a group that is supposed to be protecting teachers.

Last week, Linda Evon, a Pickney special needs classroom assistant, also filed an unfair labor practice complaint against MEA. She said she tried to quit the union Sept. 4, only to be told the deadline had passed on Aug. 31.

Amazingly, this was the response when asked for a comment from the MEA:

A spokesman for MEA did not respond to the Washington Examiner‘s request for comment

Of course not! They aren’t going to publicly disclose that they are trying to preserve union cash over teacher’s own rights. This is an embarrassment to the time when unions were actually needed. But they have transformed into protecting workers in a time when laws were not in place to protect workers to a time when all they care about it collecting union cash.

And they have the nerve to make this complaint:

Big Labor hates right-to-work laws because they typically mean fewer members and therefore less dues revenue. Union leaders complain that they cause what economists call a “free rider” problem, since workers still get the benefits of union contract negotiations. Nothing prevents unions from negotiating “members-only” contracts though. They’d just rather have the additional dues coming in.

A free-rider problem? Because workers benefit from the union’s contract negotiations and don’t have to pay. Someone PLEASE enlighten me about how the “collective bargaining fee” is calculated. If you are negotiating on behalf of 100 or 10,000 teachers do you really do more work? Free-rider problem, what a bunch of absolute baloney!

Of course, with the impending law, many unions rushed to negotiate contracts with a 10 year security clause, locking in the automated union dues. Hello what? The union just negotiated it’s own salary for the next ten years?!!? Teachers in the city of Taylor in MI filed suit to eliminate the 10-year security clause and won.

Unions do what they want, without majority of teacher input

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

In my last post I talked about how teachers should pay the union dues directly, so they can have more control over the actions of their union and because I think it’s veering on an illegal use of taxpayer monies.

I also think that unions would have to pay more attention to their teachers if they had to actually collect the monies. You might be surprised to think that teacher’s don’t have much say in their union. Isn’t it there to protect teachers and represent them? I’m not entirely sure which teachers unions are representing, but its not the majority of teachers.

I can tell you from my own experience as a student in my public schools that the teacher who were younger, more innovative and wanted to make change were easily rebuffed by union officials. So much so that they are scared to go against the union. Scared to speak up? Oh and by the way, the same people you are scared to speak up against, are taking your money for union dues without any say from you.

Now that I think about it, it’s like taxpayers who are scared or unmotivated to approached their legislators about how their own tax money is being spent.

Bottom line, these people are taking your money, more or less without your say so and then are spending it on who knows what.

When I was an intern during my school counseling program, I worked for a counselor who was retiring the next year. She was in a group of teachers who all sat together at lunch and literally gossiped about everyone and made lots of off handed comments about their retirement, their workload, making everything seem like a big sham. They were in it for them first and it at all, the kids second.

Dmitri Mehlhorn has a great piece called: Why Teachers Have No Voice. He makes some very compelling points.

He talks about how his mom was a teacher and when she became a union rep, saw that while she was trying to adovcate for student achievement to be the union’s goal, it was really about job protection and salaries. He says his mom retired early and still worries about ineffective teachers.

A close look shows that many teachers believe in parent engagement and choice. When the chips are down – in other words, when it comes to their own children – public school teachers are twice as likely as other parents to send their kids to private schools. When I had an ineffective teacher as a child, my mom pinched pennies to put me into a private school for a few years. Teachers do this for reasons eloquently explained by Ray Salazar, a Chicago Public Schools teacher who wrote about his choices for his own children and why public education should offer more choices for all parents.

More than anyone else, fellow teachers know how other teachers teach. The most disturbing thing for my as a school counselor intern was that no matter how much time I spend working with a student, I still have to sent him back to the 5/6 ineffective teachers. There is nothing I can do to help him overcome that. And it feels like all the work I do unravels as soon as he walks out the door. I suspect that is why teachers often make choices other than public school for their kids, because while a parent may fight the system to get what their child needs, a teacher knows the fight could be futile, or even detrimental to their own job.

Three quarters of all teachers and an even higher percentage of highly recognized teachers believe it needs to be easier to dismiss ineffective teachers. Unfortunately, teachers feel that they have no voice outside their classrooms.

It is still excruciatingly difficult to dismiss ineffective teachers, while 3/4 of teachers believe it should be easier.

Dmitri’s mom is not the only one to realize that unions aren’t what we need them to be:

My mom’s experience, however, alerted me to the sincerity of those who have concluded that reform unionism is a mirage. Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who concluded that teachers’ unions have been an “unwavering road block to reform,” started his career as a teachers’ union organizer. Civil rights leader Howard Fuller traveled a similar path: starting his career as a public sector union organizer, but eventually concluding that the unions prioritized political power over student interests.

I, myself, used to be vehemently for teachers, no questions asked. I assumed, naturally, that the teachers deserved the contracts they asked for because teachers are the foundation of our society. I blindly supported teachers until I started to perform more research. Now I see the evidence everywhere.

Union leaders tend to be unrepresentative. A 2005 survey of membership and leadership by the National Education Association found that only 15 percent of teachers are actively involved with the union.

If unions are going to useful in a positive way, they need to embrace more of their membership. And I think they should get to know all of them better by requiring them to pay the dues out of pocket instead of automatically through their paycheck.

 

AEA spews lies in response to “School Choice” March

Hundreds of people participate in a National School Choice Week rally as they make their way up the sidewalk along Dexter avenue to the Alabama State Capitol, Wednesday Jan. 28, 2015, in Montgomery, Ala. Parents and students rallied on the lawn of the Alabama Capitol Wednesday, urging state politicians to provide more publicly funded education options.(AP Photo/Hal Yeager)

Hundreds of people participate in a National School Choice Week rally as they make their way up the sidewalk along Dexter avenue to the Alabama State Capitol, Wednesday Jan. 28, 2015, in Montgomery, Ala. Parents and students rallied on the lawn of the Alabama Capitol Wednesday, urging state politicians to provide more publicly funded education options.(AP Photo/Hal Yeager)

 The Alabama Education Association (AEA) supports the efforts of all parents everywhere seeking the best possible education for their children, be it in public, private, religious, or home schools. However, AEA must stand against those that seek to divert scarce public education resources into ideas that have been shown not to improve student achievement and, instead, foster fraud and waste of taxpayer funds.

Funds for traditional public school may be scarce, but you have to understand that your traditional public schools have not shown the success students need and changes are necessary. Standing in the way of reform is supporting the status quo – which from this last post, indicates that African American boys are graduating at a rate of 54%. How can the AEA support such a low graduation rate? “Foster fraud and waste taxpayer money”? That sounds like fear mongering – and the only one wasting taxpayer dollars are the schools who are not providing quality education to all students. 

AEA Associate Executive Secretary Dr. Greg Graves said, “Just as with the oral argument before the Alabama Supreme Court on AAA, while public school educators and students went about the tasks of teaching and learning, children were taken out of the classroom to be used as pawns and set decoration by those who seek to dismantle and destroy public education. The numbers from AAA show that it is predominantly being used to subsidize parents who already send their children to private school and those in school systems without a ‘failing school.’ Studies have shown conclusively that students in charter schools perform no better, and often worse, than students in public schools and that charter schools are rife with fraud and abuse of taxpayer funds. Instead of investing in strategies that we know improve teaching and learning, such as smaller class sizes, better training and professional development of teachers, and additional resources for students with challenges, we are only looking at ideas that divert money from public schools into private hands. ”

Ah Dr. Graves – how long have AL public schools been on the current path? They haven’t gotten it right yet and you are asking for more money to continue on the same inadequate path? There are just as many studies that show smaller class sizes at a certain number don’t impact learning. Better training and Professional development of teachers? I think part of that is the role of your Schools of Education to prepare adequate teachers…and how long has it been since a majority of your teachers attended a school of education? I hope that to determine the professional development needs of your teachers you are administering an effective teacher evaluation to pinpoint their exact areas needed of improvement. Diverting money from public schools to private hands…you what really strikes me about that? Parents who send their kids to a non public school are still paying their fare share of the taxes to support public schools their kids are not attending. That’s like saying, “Oh, I gave you a defective car? Oh I’m sorry, but you need to finish paying for that car and buy a new one, there is just nothing else I can do if you want to have a car to drive.” While not all charter schools are successful, plenty of them are. Parents clearly want choices. But remember, Dr. Graves exclusively represents teachers – not parents, not students, not the community. His only job is to look out for teachers. 

Graves added, “Despite the rhetoric from those who are looking to divert public school funding, parents have always had a choice between public schools, private schools, and home schooling. For the last decade under No Child Left Behind, most parents in what are now called “failing schools” also had the choice to transfer to other public schools in the same district. What is being presented as “choice” is nothing but a way to starve public education and make charter and private school operators rich.”

Yes, parents have had the choice between sending their child to the failing school their tax dollars pay for, or shelling out the own extra money to pay for private school. Great options! Oh, so I don’t have to send my child to my failing school, but I am responsible for transportation to and from another school in the district that I choose that is not failing? Why can’t parents have a choice of school, choice of public schools within their own attendance zone? The only people getting rich are union staffers –  nearly 600 staffers at the NEA and AFT are raking in six-figure salaries, and of course, Randi Weingarten makes $557,875

 

 

You know what is on its last legs? Status quo education

My search to find articles to refute has bound upon a plentiful pile at “Living in Dialogue” blog.

Here goes Anthony Cody, yet again…

There is growing evidence that the corporate-sponsored education reform project is on its last legs. The crazy patchwork of half-assed solutions on offer for the past decade have one by one failed to deliver, and one by one they are falling. Can the edifice survive once its pillars of support have crumbled?

No. You may wish it so. But it is not true. Saying it doesn’t make it true. But you know what is on its last legs? Status quo education that your folks have been defending for so long, that is still failing children nation-wide.

Teach For America: This project had as its central premise the idea that what was wrong with the teaching profession was that not enough really smart people were becoming teachers. So we will recruit some high flyers and fill the gaps in high needs schools. And because these folks are sooo smart, they do not need the year or two of preparation that regular old teachers needed – they could learn to crunch data, manage a class and prepare for tests in just five weeks. And if they leave after a couple of years, that’s ok too. They can transform education as the next generation of leaders and policymakers, because they will have brains that classroom experience, and TFA’s no excuses philosophy to guide them.

As Cody continues with his selective history, I pulled this off the TFA website:

Wendy Kopp proposed the idea for Teach For America in her Princeton University undergraduate thesis in 1989.  In 1990, a charter corps of 500 committed recent college graduates joined Teach For America and began fueling the movement to eliminate educational inequity.  Since then, nearly 33,000 participants have reached more than 3 million children nationwide during their two-year teaching commitments. They have sustained their commitment as alumni, working within education and across all sectors to help ensure that children growing up in low-income communities get an excellent education.

Given the magnitude of the educational inequity, we have aggressively worked to grow and deepen our impact.  Our corps members and alumni have helped accelerate the pace of change as teachers, principals, elected officials, social entrepreneurs, and leaders in all fields.  Alongside many others, they have proven that classrooms, schools and now whole communities can transform the life trajectories of all students, regardless of background.

We are energized by the progress we have made over the past 22 years and more hopeful than ever before that one day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.

From this excerpt, I can see that TFA was started to commit recent college graduates who believed in eliminating educational equity to serve as teachers in low income communities. TFA is working the make sure that poverty doesn’t write  a child’s future but that their education does. But because the union movement and it’s friends like Diane Ravitch and Anthony Cody are just now trying to tackle poverty, they can’t admit that anyone else is, because it takes away from the success they can produce. How selfish. That doesn’t sound like its about kids. Sounds like it is about adults.

What is really the difference between a recent college graduate who took 30 more credits in education and a TFA teacher? Only the quality of their instruction. We already know there is a movement to transform schools of education because the teaching profession is lacking a true leader in that field. So, a lackluster 30 credits (which split up over a couple days a week for a couple of hours a day over two semesters) or 5 weeks of intensive training? Sounds like they could be pretty equal to me.

But this year TFA is hitting some serious headwinds. They are finding that recruitment has dropped for some reason, and the organization is even closing its New York training instituteoffice. Perhaps students have been finding out some of the problems with the program, discovering in advance that five weeks is not adequate preparation for the challenge of teaching in a challenging school. Perhaps potential recruits have encountered TFA alums sharing their experiences, or even some of those organizing to resist the program. And word may have leaked out that TFA is not the best vehicle for those concerned with social justice – given that corps members are sometimes being used to replace veteran teachers.

Ok Cody, where is your data, your research to support the crumbling? So what they are closing an office and there are fewer applicants. Those statements say nothing about the quality of the work TFA teachers do, or the success they have with their students. Where is your data proving that students with a TFA teacher perform worse than traditional public school teacher taught students? Unless you can back your statements up with some data, you are just crying wolf.

Since you mentioned veteran teachers….Some are very good. Many are not – either they haven’t kept up with the times, their classroom discipline/management style doesn’t mesh with today’s youth, they haven’t had a professional, thorough evaluation to determine where their professional development needs are (the subsequently they did not receive professional development to meet their needs, which not their fault, but a reality), they won’t learn new education strategies, or the worst, they are just collecting a paycheck and passing out worksheets all day long.

This may not be a majority of teachers – BUT THEY DO EXIST!! and every single moment a student spends with these ineffective teachers is a wasted moment that the child is expecting to receive a quality education and simply is not. Children, parents and the community expect and are paying for high quality education. When are kids aren’t receiving a quality education we are all wasting our money, might as well be flushing it down the toilet. Or, Like in DeKalb County, GA where I live, as long as all the friends and family have a high paying job at the school department, all is right with the world.

It’s Not About You, It’s About the Kids

I am so sick and tired of hearing that “xyz” person doesn’t have teaching experience, or is a “non-educator” and therefore can’t possibly have a worthwhile view on the education of our kids.

We are not applying for teaching jobs. We are not writing curriculum (standards are not curriculum). We do however, pay for education and that comes with the responsibility to ensure our money is spent effectively.

Every single person in this country helps to pay for education. Every single person has the right to question if their money is being spent properly, when the results they see are not ideal.

If you were having your car worked on and upon receiving it back to you were unsure of the proper operation of the car. Would you just say, ‘Oh well, I am not a mechanic, so it must be fine, who am I to question the professional?” Or would you go back to the mechanic, explain what you noticed differently, how it is not performing as you expected and could you explain in detail what you did to fix my car and confirm that everything was done correctly? Maybe you would just go to another mechanic instead?

Parents and students (who may not be education professionals) are the first impacted by their or their kids education. They have a pretty good idea whether they are getting what they need and want out of their schools. When they ask questions it should be taken as a sign that they are invested in their education, not as an affront to the system. They are looking for an explanation, and a change of course, they are not recommending a specific course of action.

I may say to the mechanic, “Is there any other way to fix this problem? Any other strategies to complete this repair? Could it be part of a larger issue I should have addressed?” I wouldn’t be suggesting a specific repair strategy, but asking the questions I would need in order to assess my results and options.

Anti-reformers need to stop taking questions personally and understand that it’s really ACTUALLY personal for the student and his/her parent. Every single day that a student is not receiving the education they need is a waste of tax payer dollars, a waste of everyone’s time and education instructional time that the student will never regain.

For taxpayers, for business, for everyone else in the community paying for education – everyone has a right to ask questions and demand results for their money. If the county water system was pumping out infected water, surely residents would be in an uproar about it. Not only is the water paid for by taxes, but it is a public health concern. And it would be fixed immediately (hopefully). Now, is it the whole city government’s fault? no. Is it maybe one person’s fault? or a couple of people? maybe. Will they be trained better or some other change? Probably.

So why is it that anti-reformers take it so personally when anyone, students, parents, taxpayers, question how a school is performing? Why are we getting the results we are? What else can be done to change the performance of our students? Is there another school I can send my child to? These are VALID questions for tax payers who are paying for schools and students who need to be able to rely on their education to allow them to be competitive in today’s market. Businesses need qualified workers.

The answer is in the constituency. The public education system as a whole is responsible to tax payers, citizens, students, parents, communities…etc. but they are commingled with education professionals who have a constituency to teachers (and union dues) ONLY. So how can the public get a straight, respectful answer from education professionals with such conflicting constituencies?