Michigan's "Stunning" Move Toward Freedom

National political columnist Rich Lowry calls the developments in Michigan "stunning" while explaining how Indiana, since their enactment of a Right to Work law, has created 43,300 jobs while Michigan was losing jobs. It was the advent of an era of industrial unionization that may be coming to a symbolic end in the same place it started.  Michigan is on the verge of passing the kind of “right to work” law that is anathema to unions everywhere and is associated with the red states of the Sun Belt, not the blue states of the Rust Belt. To say that such a development is stunning is almost an understatement. Michigan is to unionization what Florida is to sand, Texas is to oil, and Alaska is to grizzly bears. The union model hasn’t just been central to its economy, but to its very identity. Michigan was undergoing a real-world experiment in the merits of forced unionization versus right-to-work after neighboring Indiana adopted a right-to-work law earlier this year, the first Rust Belt state to do so. The early returns weren’t encouraging. Indiana added 43,300 jobs — 13,900 of them in manufacturing — while Michigan shed 7,300 jobs. Michigan governor Rick Snyder, a Republican reformer but not a bomb thrower, says seeing 90 companies from around the country decide to settle in Indiana after the labor change influenced his willingness to sign a bill doing the same thing. 

Big Labor Sues to Force Kids into Bad Schools

Big Labor Sues to Force Kids into Bad Schools

Just when you think they can't go any lower, the union bosses have filed a lawsuit in Louisiana to force children to attend poor schools.  The Wall Street Journal opines on the latest big labor outrage: Here's the bizarre world in which we live: In 2007 Gabriel Evans attended a public school in New Orleans graded "F" by the Louisiana Department of Education. Thanks to a New Orleans voucher program, Gabriel moved in 2008 to a Catholic school. His mother, Valerie Evans, calls the voucher a "lifesaver," allowing him to get "out of a public school system that is filled with fear, confusion and violence." So what is the response of the teachers union? Sue the state to force 11-year-old Gabriel back to the failing school. This week a state court in Baton Rouge is hearing the union challenge to Louisiana's Act 2, which expanded the New Orleans program statewide and allows families with a household income less than 250% of the federal poverty line to get a voucher to escape schools ranked C or worse by the state. Gabriel's voucher covers $4,315 in annual tuition. The tragedy is how many students qualify for the program. According to the state, 953 of the state's 1,373 public schools (K-12) were ranked C, D or F. Under the new program, more than 4,900 students have received scholarships allowing them to attend non-public schools. Enter the teachers unions, which sued this summer to stop the incursion into their rotting enterprise. According to the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Educators, the voucher program steals money from public schools.

Battleground Michigan

Battleground Michigan

Shikha Dalmia of Reason looks at big labor's effort keep Michigan a second rate economic state through a series of referendums on the statewide ballot next month: We've seen Gov. Scott Walker's battle in Wisconsin and the Chicago Teachers Union strike next door. Now in Michigan comes another Midwestern political showdown that will carry enormous implications for the role of unions in American life. [media-credit name=" " align="alignright" width="300"][/media-credit]The Michigan Supreme Court recently approved the placement of a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot. If passed by voters, the so-called Protect Our Jobs amendment would give public-employee unions a potent new tool to challenge any laws—past, present or future—that limit their benefits or collective-bargaining powers. It would also bar Michigan from becoming a right-to-work state in which mandatory union dues are not a condition of employment. The budget implications are dire. Michigan public unions began pushing the initiative last year, shortly after Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder—facing a $2 billion fiscal hole—capped public spending on public-employee health benefits at 80% of total costs. This spring, national labor unions joined the amendment effort after failing to prevent Indiana from becoming a right-to-work state. Bob King of the United Auto Workers said that Michigan's initiative would "send a message" to other states tempted to follow Indiana's example. The UAW, along with allies in the AFL-CIO and the Teamsters, poured $8 million into gathering 554,000 signatures—some 200,000 more than needed—to put Protect Our Jobs on the Michigan ballot.

Won't Back Down

Won't Back Down

Despite decades of failure in our public school, the union bosses who run the teachers union don't take criticism real well.  A union funded front group are villifying a new movie "about the brutal retaliation of a teachers union against a teacher and a single mother has inspired real-life union vilification of the movie and a campaign against entertainers who have anything to do with it," Margert Eagan reports: [media-credit name=" " align="alignleft" width="250"][/media-credit]“Won’t Back Down” tells the story of a teacher (Viola Davis) and a single mother (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who battle to oust the union in a poor, failing Pittsburgh school. Produced by Walden Media, it’s an emotional roller coaster aimed at mainstream audiences unlike “Waiting for Superman,” Walden’s previous anti-union and much-heralded documentary. “The basic question the film asks is what you would do if your daughter was trapped in a failing school,” said Walden co-founder Michael Flaherty yesterday in his Burlington office. But instead of actually responding, he said, critics anxious to maintain the status quo “are a lot more interested in intimidation and the politics of personal destruction.” In real life, Parents Across America, an advocacy group which has received union funding, has launched a “fight Hollywood” campaign asking members to contact entertainers at all involved with the film or even a summer concert to kick it off. The intent, according to its website, which lists phone numbers and emails of agents and publicists, is to brand the film as a “feel bad, not feel good” movie. On their list: Davis and Gyllenhaal, plus Meryl Streep, Morgan Freeman, Jack Black, the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, Maroon 5’s Adam Levine and Josh Groban.

Won't Back Down

Won't Back Down

Despite decades of failure in our public school, the union bosses who run the teachers union don't take criticism real well.  A union funded front group are villifying a new movie "about the brutal retaliation of a teachers union against a teacher and a single mother has inspired real-life union vilification of the movie and a campaign against entertainers who have anything to do with it," Margert Eagan reports: [media-credit name=" " align="alignleft" width="250"][/media-credit]“Won’t Back Down” tells the story of a teacher (Viola Davis) and a single mother (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who battle to oust the union in a poor, failing Pittsburgh school. Produced by Walden Media, it’s an emotional roller coaster aimed at mainstream audiences unlike “Waiting for Superman,” Walden’s previous anti-union and much-heralded documentary. “The basic question the film asks is what you would do if your daughter was trapped in a failing school,” said Walden co-founder Michael Flaherty yesterday in his Burlington office. But instead of actually responding, he said, critics anxious to maintain the status quo “are a lot more interested in intimidation and the politics of personal destruction.” In real life, Parents Across America, an advocacy group which has received union funding, has launched a “fight Hollywood” campaign asking members to contact entertainers at all involved with the film or even a summer concert to kick it off. The intent, according to its website, which lists phone numbers and emails of agents and publicists, is to brand the film as a “feel bad, not feel good” movie. On their list: Davis and Gyllenhaal, plus Meryl Streep, Morgan Freeman, Jack Black, the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, Maroon 5’s Adam Levine and Josh Groban.

The Teachers Strike May Have Been In Chicago, But It's All Our Problem

The Teachers Strike May Have Been In Chicago, But It's All Our Problem

Matt Kibbe looks at why the "resolution" of the teacher's strike in Chicago is not in the best interests of the children and taxpayers of the state: The Chicago Teachers Union Strike may be resolved for now, but the events illustrate a serious problem facing the United States: union bosses are manipulating government leaders, using teachers and students as human shields in their fight to maintain power over the educational system. Their stranglehold on education has to end if our children are to have any hope of getting the education they need to compete in the world. [media-credit name=" " align="aligncenter" width="300"][/media-credit]Teacher pay got a lot of attention in coverage of the debate, but it was far from the only issue at play in the strike, which ended Wednesday under the promise of a resolution that appeased the union bullies. The primary disagreements were over who has the power to hire and fire teachers, and accountability for student performance. The union insisted that it should have the right to dictate who gets hired to fill jobs in the district. Primarily, it wanted to take hiring authority away from school principals by requiring that laid-off teachers be hired back. Union leaders also rejected the perfectly reasonable demand from the city of Chicago that standardized test scores play a role in evaluating teacher performance. A roofer is judged by how well his shingles keep out the rain. A CFO is judged by her company’s balance sheet. A journalist is judged by the accuracy and fairness of his story. Yet somehow union leaders think teachers shouldn’t be judged by the outcome of their work. Teachers’ unions exist to promote what’s best for teachers, not students. As Albert Shanker, the late president of the American Federation of Teachers, once reportedly put it, “When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren.” (Shanker’s supporters dispute that he said this, but the quotation’s staying power illustrates the accuracy with which it represents union motives.) Because they exist to protect the status quo, unions oppose the kind of meaningful education reform America needs. They oppose education tax credits, school vouchers, charter schools, merit pay, and virtually all attempts to impose real accountability. They instead support a system that sees the United States spending nearly two and a half times more per pupil today than in 1970. What have we received in return? Stagnant math and reading scores for 17-year-olds, and a decline in science scores.

The Teachers Strike May Have Been In Chicago, But It's All Our Problem

The Teachers Strike May Have Been In Chicago, But It's All Our Problem

Matt Kibbe looks at why the "resolution" of the teacher's strike in Chicago is not in the best interests of the children and taxpayers of the state: The Chicago Teachers Union Strike may be resolved for now, but the events illustrate a serious problem facing the United States: union bosses are manipulating government leaders, using teachers and students as human shields in their fight to maintain power over the educational system. Their stranglehold on education has to end if our children are to have any hope of getting the education they need to compete in the world. [media-credit name=" " align="aligncenter" width="300"][/media-credit]Teacher pay got a lot of attention in coverage of the debate, but it was far from the only issue at play in the strike, which ended Wednesday under the promise of a resolution that appeased the union bullies. The primary disagreements were over who has the power to hire and fire teachers, and accountability for student performance. The union insisted that it should have the right to dictate who gets hired to fill jobs in the district. Primarily, it wanted to take hiring authority away from school principals by requiring that laid-off teachers be hired back. Union leaders also rejected the perfectly reasonable demand from the city of Chicago that standardized test scores play a role in evaluating teacher performance. A roofer is judged by how well his shingles keep out the rain. A CFO is judged by her company’s balance sheet. A journalist is judged by the accuracy and fairness of his story. Yet somehow union leaders think teachers shouldn’t be judged by the outcome of their work. Teachers’ unions exist to promote what’s best for teachers, not students. As Albert Shanker, the late president of the American Federation of Teachers, once reportedly put it, “When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren.” (Shanker’s supporters dispute that he said this, but the quotation’s staying power illustrates the accuracy with which it represents union motives.) Because they exist to protect the status quo, unions oppose the kind of meaningful education reform America needs. They oppose education tax credits, school vouchers, charter schools, merit pay, and virtually all attempts to impose real accountability. They instead support a system that sees the United States spending nearly two and a half times more per pupil today than in 1970. What have we received in return? Stagnant math and reading scores for 17-year-olds, and a decline in science scores.