Charter School Ousts MEA Union in Historic Vote


MIDLAND—The teachers of Island City Academy, a charter school in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, voted today to oust the Michigan Education Association (MEA) as their collective bargaining agent.  The vote was nearly unanimous, with 12 voting to decertify the union and 1 favoring it.

"This vote is of historic importance," said Robert P. Hunter, Director of Labor Policy for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.  "If it encourages charter schools to take similar steps, it could start to break the MEA's stranglehold on real education reform in Michigan."  Hunter said the last known decertification of an MEA local was "probably decades ago."  The union won a 1998 decertification election in Branch County when only one third of voting school employees chose to remove the MEA.

Prior to the Island City Academy vote, a majority of teachers publicly complained in a petition to the Board of Education that "the union is seeking to protect its own agenda and . . . is causing the district to spend precious resources of time and money that could be used to improve the compensation of teachers or to better meet the classroom instruction needs of students."  The petition asked the school board to withdraw recognition from the union, and urged the MEA to withdraw an unfair labor practice complaint that had delayed the decertification vote.  Today's vote clears the way for teachers to negotiate wages and other work issues directly with school managers.

"The teachers of Island City Academy are to be congratulated," said Hunter. "The law recognizes and protects their right to exercise a free and uncoerced choice in the matter of union representation, and they have successfully exercised that right.  All Michigan citizens should wish them well in their efforts to do what is best for themselves, their students, and their community."

The Mackinac Center is a Midland-based nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.  It offers a brochure entitled "My Union Doesn't Represent Me! What Are My Choices?,"  available to teachers who want to learn their legal rights regarding choices in union representation.