99% of members remain with MEA, much to chagrin of opponents of public education
Ninety-nine percent of MEA members chose to stay with their union when given the choice under Michigan’s new so-called “right-to-work” law, MEA President Steve Cook announced to the hundreds of teachers, education support professionals and higher education employees gathered Oct. 5 at MEA’s Fall Representative Assembly in Lansing.
After Gov. Rick Snyder and Republicans in the state Legislature jammed through right-to-work bills last December, Cook said, “Some predicted it was the end of organized labor in Michigan — that it would never survive. Some emails to me said it was foolish to even try to retain members — tens of thousands were waiting to leave. That’s why I don’t read Mackinac Center emails anymore.”
“After the other side set up websites, held seminars and town halls, and sent tens of thousands of emails directly to members, 99 percent of the MEA membership said, ‘No, thank you,’” Cook said. “They stayed with the organization that protects and respects your profession and the important role you play in educating students.”
In response to right-to-work and other recently enacted laws, the delegates approved amendments to the MEA Constitution, Bylaws, and Guidelines for UniServ in Michigan in order to identify the rights and benefits only available to members in good standing in the Association.
Proponents of the right-to-work law — as well as the new law banning school districts from collecting union dues — had hoped to cripple MEA, which they see as the last major obstacle standing in the way of a corporate takeover of public education.
While corporate special interests might be left scratching their heads, school employees across the state understand the advantages that MEA membership provides for their careers, for their rights, for their wallets and for public education.
“Long after Rick Snyder and this Legislature are nothing more than an unpleasant memory, there will still be a Michigan Education Association,” Cook said. “There’s no challenge we can’t meet.”