The Nature of MEA Political Involvement

The MEA political machine is essentially composed of two parts: the MEA's office of government affairs and the MEA Political Action Committee. In addition, the MEA is able to involve its membership and staff in massive grass-roots political campaigns whenever issues arise which concern the MEA's interests. The MEA is well known for unleashing its political muscle every time a major public policy initiative appears which might impact the union or affect its political interests. In the spring of 1993, for example, the MEA was one of the more fervent supporters of the sales tax increase contained in the failed Proposal A ballot question. In previous years, the MEA has led similar statewide efforts to increase Michigan's sales tax. The MEA has also championed causes not directly related to educational concerns, such as the movement to sustain Medicaid-funded abortions. In fact, Right to Life of Michigan claims that the MEA is one of the leading pro-choice advocacy groups in the state.

The MEA political machine is so effective at what it does because it boasts huge amounts of financial contributions from MEA members as well as an influential lobbying staff. The MEA's lobbying division continually targets issues relevant to the union, determines an appropriate stand, and then coordinates a strategy for action. As a whole, the MEA is quite vocal in expressing its political desires to Michigan's legislators, and it is not afraid of applying pressure tactics whenever it seeks responsive action from the legislature. For now, the MEA's political persuasion and potency of influence is unmatched by any other public employee union in the state, which is why MESSA's critics are fearful.