MEA response to Richardville political attack on public education, middle class

EAST LANSING, Mich., Sept. 9, 2011 — The following statement in response to Sen. Randy Richardville’s appearance on “Off the Record” can be attributed to MEA President Steven Cook:

“Sen. Richardville is seriously misguided in his proposal to attack school employees by introducing a bill that would apply so-called “Right to Work FOR LESS” rules to school employees only.

“Republican leaders have slashed school funding, increased taxes, stripped collective bargaining rights from teachers and other school employees, forced them to pay more out of pocket for retirement and health insurance and, in general, completely undermined and demoralized the educators of this state.

“For Sen. Richardville to say that school employees, unlike other unions, have not recognized the state’s tough economic times is ridiculous. Teachers and support staff have been laid off, taken wage and benefit cuts, and seen critical services for students in their districts disappear because of the Republican cut of more than $1 billion from public education.

“MEA members are fed up. That’s why thousands have been engaged, alongside thousands of other Michigan citizens, in recall efforts designed to stop these constant attacks on public education and the middle class.

“Instead of focusing on putting our state back to work, Sen. Richardville would rather engage in political power grabs. How is attacking public school employees and their unions supposed to help our economy and create jobs?

“This is blatant abuse of legislative authority to dole out political payback. That any lawmaker would so willfully use their power to attack a group of people for exercising their constitutional rights to free speech and participation in the democratic process is unconscionable. This is just a continuation of what we’ve seen for months – political extremists and greedy corporate CEOs engaged in a power grab to squeeze even more money out of the middle class and leave workers with no job security, pensions or protections for working conditions.

“MEA continues to believe that the most important factor in the education of a child, next to an involved parent, is having well-trained, caring professionals in our schools. MEA believes this is achieved when education professionals are involved in critical decisions regarding wages, hours and conditions of employment – Sen. Richardville wants to end all that, pure and simple.

“Sen. Richardville seems to think that MEA members don’t stand behind their union. I have news for him – we’ve heard from countless MEA members who don’t think we’ve gone far enough in fighting back against these attacks. We’re encouraging every MEA member to contact Sen. Richardville’s office immediately and tell him just how wrong he is. His phone number is 866-556-7917.”

Contact: Doug Pratt, MEA Director of Public Affairs, 517-332-6551