Message from MEA President Steve Cook about Election 2012 results
Dear MEA members,
There's no way to sugar-coat last night's loss on Proposal 2 enough to make it easy to swallow. But I will preface my comments with this -- I have never seen this organization so engaged and united. And I've never been more proud of our Association than I have been these past few months. We organized thousands of members to volunteer throughout this campaign, and that organizing will not be in vain so long as we keep our members engaged in the fight for our schools and our rights. I can only say thank you, but it doesn't seem like enough.
The failure to pass Proposal 2 is a bitter disappointment felt not only by you and me, but the other Protect Working Families coalition members as well. Suffice to say, the coalition simply was not able to overcome being outspent by corporate special interests who did everything they could to convince voters that Proposal 2 was about everything but collective bargaining.
But the battle to protect collective bargaining is not over--it's never over.
Research just released today shows that 70% of voters support collective bargaining, including 55% of those who voted against Prop 2. For them, their vote was not a condemnation of collective bargaining, but an unwillingness to amend the constitution -- something that in the end took down all five amendments last night.
Prop 2's defeat means collective bargaining is not protected in the constitution; but it does not mean that collective bargaining is gone. Within the laws and restrictions placed on us by the Legislature, we will continue to collectively bargain with local school boards to make decisions in the best interests of students, employees and communities. Resourceful and creative members, leaders and staff will continue to find ways at the bargaining table to protect students, provide the necessary resources so students are successful, and preserve public education.
We also will continue the fight to prevent lawmakers from enacting further restraints on our collective bargaining rights. And in that vein, we had successes last night that are truly worth celebrating:
- The re-election of President Obama and Senator Stabenow give us friends in Washington, D.C. to continue the fight there. And Bridget Mary McCormack's election gives us a Supreme Court justice who believes in protecting our families' interests ahead of those of corporate CEOs.
- The repeal of the Emergency Manager law (Prop 1) and the defeat of the tax supermajority measure (Prop 5) show that voters have no appetite for the policies of the extreme right. MEA was a key player in both those fights, with a huge number of members collecting signatures to put the EM law on the ballot and resources from both MEA and NEA that went into the No on 5 effort.
- Despite freshly gerrymandered district lines designed to increase Republicans' stranglehold of the Legislature, Democrats picked up 6 seats in the State House. The makeup of the House is now 51 Democrats and 59 Republicans -- come January, just 4 votes crossing over can change the outcome of a bill. In 2013, we will need to redouble our lobbying efforts with lawmakers from both parties to move a pro-public education agenda. We will have several more friends in the Capitol though, with the election of fellow MEA members Collene Lamonte, Theresa Abed and Terry Brown, along with Henry Yanez, Gretchen Driskell, Tom Cochran, Winnie Brinks and Scott Dianda. In all these target races -- as well as many others that came up just short -- MEA members, leaders and staff put in a ton of focused, energized, hard work that paid off.
- On the State Board of Education, we elected two new friends and allies to that body who understand what the needs are of education professionals -- Michelle Fecteau and our fellow member Lupe Ramos-Montigny. And we swept 6 out of 6 other recommended candidates for the MSU, UofM and Wayne State boards.
In all, it's a mixed bag of results. But I will return to where I began -- MEA is stronger for the fight we've been engaged in. While we all need and deserve a brief rest, that fight will continue. And, as before and always, I am proud to stand with all of you in that fight.