During a debate last week with Mackinac Center President Joe Lehman, John Bayerl, a teachers union member from Dearborn standing in for UAW President Bob King said, “I don’t believe our schools will run without collective bargaining.”
It’s not surprising that a long-time school unionist might see the world this way, but a larger perspective shows it to be false.*
For example, according to the Michigan Department of Education, there are more than 700 private and independent schools currently operating in Michigan with no collective bargaining — and many doing so quite well. (Public school teachers are actually more likely to send their children to these types of schools than the rest of the public.)
Perhaps Mr. Bayerl meant that only taxpayer-funded Michigan schools cannot operate without being mandated to bargain with unions. But that’s not true either: More than 300 public charter schools are also thriving with no union and no collective bargaining. Enrollment in these schools grew more than 55 percent from 2002 to 2008 based solely on parents choosing to send their children to them.
And that’s just Michigan. Around the country, seven states outright forbid collective bargaining in public schools, including Virginia, North Carolina, Texas and Arizona: That’s around 20,000 public schools that somehow manage to keep their doors open without the burden of forced unionization.
Another nine states have no collective bargaining laws for public school employees, including Missouri, Colorado, Utah and Kentucky. Add another 11,500 schools to the list of those running without forced bargaining.
This is yet another example of school unionists’ skewed worldview, which amounts to, “Either it’s done our way or it cannot be done at all.” As an esteemed former Democratic Senator once said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
*Despite claims to the contrary, if the Protect Our Jobs initiative makes it on to the November ballot and defeated, collective bargaining for government union employees will continue to exist.