Michigan Teacher Union Boss Loves Math Teachers So Much He Wants to Ensure They Don’t Get Paid Excessively

Last year, State Rep. Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), a staunch foe of compulsory unionism, led the charge in his chamber of the Michigan Legislature for the Right to Work measure signed into law in December by GOP Gov. Rick Snyder.

Among all elected officials, Shirkey and state Sen. Pat Colbeck (R-Canton) deserve the most credit for making Michigan America’s 24th Right to Work state.  And they and other Wolverine State Right to Work supporters know they will have to fight hard over the next couple of years, at least, to prevent the lavishly funded union political machine from wiping Michigan’s statutory ban on forced union dues and fees off the books.  Nevertheless, Shirkey and Colbeck aren’t about to stop pushing for additional reforms.

Early this week,  the Detroit News reported that Shirkey has drafted, though not yet filed, a bill to eliminate “exclusive union representation,” properly referred to as monopoly bargaining, in the public sector.  (See the link below.)

Even in Right to Work states like Michigan, union bosses retain monopoly power to speak for all employees, union members and nonmembers alike, in contract negotiations on matters concerning their pay, benefits and work rules.  In the private sector, monopoly bargaining is imposed on all 50 states by federal labor law.  No state action can roll it back. But under the U.S. constitutional system states may choose to foist union monopoly bargaining on state and local government employees, or refrain from doing so.  Shirkey wants to repeal Michigan’s decades-old public-sector monopoly-bargaining law and replace it with a law authorizing unions to bargain for their members only.

But union bigwigs are opposed.  Even when workers have the option to refuse to bankroll a union they don’t want to join, as is now the case in Michigan, Big Labor still prefers to force those workers to accept unwanted union “representation” at the bargaining table.  David Hecker, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT/AFL-CIO) union subsidiary in Michigan, insists this is for educators’ “own good”:

“When there are some who stop paying dues, we still care about them, and we want working people treated right,” said Hecker, whose union represents 35,000 educators including those in Detroit, Utica, Roseville and some at Michigan State and Eastern Michigan universities.

But the record indicates it is not “love” for union nonmembers that motivates union bosses like Hecker.  Back in the early 1960’s, AFT union pioneers Dave Selden and Al Shanker crafted a teacher pay system that is now dominant in school districts across America.  In unionized school systems, AFT-affiliated and other teacher union bosses routinely resist changes to this system with ferocity.

Under the Selden-Shanker “single salary schedule,” pay for teachers is determined solely by years of experience and the amount of graduate coursework completed.  This system does not permit differentiation among teachers’ pay based on the grade level or the subject matter they teach or the rigor of the graduate courses they have completed.  Nor does it permit differentiation among teachers based on performance.

Even if school districts have an easy time filling elementary school teaching jobs and middle and high school teaching jobs in subjects like English, Social Studies and Physical Education at a particular salary level, but can’t find qualified individuals to teach high school  math or science at the same salary level, the Selden-Shanker system won’t allow higher pay for math or science teachers.

As long as all Michigan teachers remain under union monopoly bargaining, Hecker and other union bosses can keep all of them totally dependent on Big Labor for any future improvements in their pay and working conditions.  If math and science teachers, other teachers with rare skills, and all teachers who are especially good at what they do were able to get out from under monopoly bargaining, they would almost certainly be able to get paid more than they currently do.

But that will never happen, if Hecker and company can stop it.  They “love” math and science teachers too much to let them get paid above union-scale.  And, of course, the AFT brass is also pushing to overturn Michigan’s Right to Work law so state policy will once again authorize forcing such teachers to pay union dues or fees for the “benefit” of being paid less.

Michigan GOP explores further limits on unions | The Detroit News