Freedom to Teach

Ending forced union dues for teachers: a good idea that should be taken further

During a taping of “Off the Record,” Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville reportedly announced a plan to pass legislation that would ensure that teachers could continue to work in public schools without paying union dues or fees. The Michigan Education Association has already voiced its objections to this “right-to-teach” law, which would put it in a position of needing to ask teachers to support the union voluntarily. Depending on how the state’s 100,000 or so public school teachers respond, this could dramatically reduce the resources available to both the MEA and the Michigan Federation of Teachers, two of the state’s most formidable lobbying groups. Both of these teachers unions have steadfastly resisted education reforms.

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Teachers deserve better than to be forced to pay for a representative that doesn’t necessarily represent their views on education or politics. As professionals practicing a difficult craft, teachers have an especially compelling case to make for being freed from the burden of forced union support and instead being heard as individuals.

Still, if this bill is enacted we will still have hundreds of thousands of Michigan workers, both in government and in the private sector, who will be forced to pay for unions that they may not support and that, in many cases, serve them poorly. This law will not affect any private-sector workers and will do little to attract private companies to Michigan.

Across-the-board right-to-work would be preferable, but right-to-teach would do much to improve public education. Teachers would be treated more like professionals. A major part of the big-government establishment would lose taxpayer-guaranteed funding. If Richardville and the Republican caucus go through with this legislation, it would be a big step in the right direction. We hope that the Legislature will go further.