School employees explain why they’re sticking with MEA

MEA recently announced that despite Michigan’s so-called “right-to-work” law’s taking effect, 99 percent of MEA members have decided to remain with their union.

Teachers, education support professionals and higher-education employees who remain members enjoy numerous member-only advantages for their careers, for their rights, for their wallets and for public education.

MEA Voice asked members to explain why they decided to stick with their union. Here is a sample of responses:

  • Julie Brill, Kentwood Public Schools: “To me, my union is my family. I will stick with them through thick and thin. I also believe that collective bargaining rights are the only way to keep education strong and solid as we move forward. Having my working conditions protected means that the learning conditions for kids are protected.”
  • James Van Wormer, Bedford Public Schools: “I'm from a union family. We all have to hang together or we most certainly will all hang separately.”


  • Jodi Woznick, Grand Rapids Public Schools: “The union came through for me in a very difficult time. They spent a lot of time with me and helped me take action. I would not have been able to get my voice heard without them, especially in this time of ‘right-to-work’ policies.”
  • Sharon DeRees, Midland Public Schools: “Generations of workers had to fight for our collective human rights in order to be treated fairly by those in power. It took almost 100 years to shape the laws and change our culture to expect reasonable working conditions in a given industry. I am not a fanatic by any means, but I am sure as hell not going to quit fighting for what is just.”


  • Jennifer Garcia, Ann Arbor Public Schools: “I am from a union family, and having seen peers in the workforce without a union, I know I am blessed to have these benefits. I also feel it is all of our responsibility to contribute as our union works to make our environment a safe and reasonable place to be. I will not ride on the backs of others who plan to financially support our union and reap the benefits without contributing.”


  • Gwen Sarya, East Jordan Public Schools: “I worked at a charter school for 13 years before coming to a regular public school last year. There's much more security being with a union than being on your own.”


  • Adriana Ranta, Eaton Rapids Public Schools: “I am proud to be a union member! My dues go to protecting our rights as workers and, heaven forbid, if I needed a lawyer, MEA would be there for myself and my fellow members if the need arose.”