Teachers understand that sometimes they have to lay down the law to educate young, unruly students. But what Michigan public school instructors don’t understand is why the state’s compulsory union laws treat them as if they were children.

Michigan is one of 23 states that forces all public-sector employees, including teachers, into mandatory collective bargaining arrangements. What this means is that thousands of Michigan teachers are compelled each year to pay hundreds of dollars in fees to support unions—or else look for another job.

Many teachers are now demanding that powerful unions—including the Michigan Education Association—respect their constitutional rights to seek new union representation and to stop being forced to subsidize union political lobbying and other non-work-related activities.

Repealing compulsory union laws would allow educators who are unhappy with their union to immediately resign and voluntarily join another union or even bargain for more wages than the union will get for them.

Governor Engler has said that teachers should not be compelled to join or support a union in order to keep their jobs. It’s time for Michigan to pass a "teacher bill of rights" and restore dignity and professionalism to a vital and honorable calling.

For the Mackinac Center, this is Catherine Martin.

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