Teacher-Union-Boss ‘Rule or Ruin’ in Michigan

Branco cartoon of Governor Whitmer blowing up Michigan Schools while saying "I'm doing this for the children and AFT and NEA representatives cheering her on by saying "You go, girl!"
Michigan Democrat politicians attack union-free charters because they help kids escape failing Big Labor-ruled schools. Some union-boss puppets will even blow up abandoned school buildings to block charters from occupying them! (Credit: A. F. Branco For NRTWC)

Building May Be Razed to Stop Union-Free School From Using It!

Largely as a consequence of the gross mismanagement of K-12 schools by Big Labor politicians acting at the behest of teacher union bosses, enrollment in many Michigan school districts has plummeted in recent years.

According to a Detroit News feature story published March 14, enrollment in “traditional,” almost universally unionized, K-12 school districts in Michigan has fallen by “more than 70,600 students,” or 4.9%, since the 2019-20 school year.

Most of this decline happened because parents, fed up with Big Labor abuses such as the politically motivated continuation of COVID-19 school lockdowns long after it was apparent they were medically unwarranted, moved with their kids to states where union dons are less powerful.

But a significant portion of union-ruled government schools’ enrollment losses happened because parents who were unable or unwilling to leave Michigan transferred their kids to publicly funded, but privately managed, charter schools, which are overwhelmingly union-free.

Over the past four years, charter school enrollment in the Wolverine State grew by 3.3%, or nearly 4,900.

Thanks to Janus, Michigan’s Right to Work Repeal Did Not Destroy Teachers’ Freedom

In Michigan, as in many other states, it’s not just parents and schoolchildren who have been voting with their feet against Big Labor domination over government education, noted National Right to Work Committee Vice President John Kalb.

He explained: “Over the course of 10 years when Michigan’s Right to Work law barring terminations for refusal to join or bankroll a union was in effect, from 2013 to 2023, membership in the statewide subsidiary of the radical National Education Association [NEA] plummeted by a third, or 38,000. Meanwhile, membership in the statewide subsidiary of the equally extreme American Federation of Teachers [AFT/AFL-CIO] union plummeted by roughly 25%.

“And all this happened despite the fact that the aggregate employment of the state government school system has grown by 27,000 since 2012, as Michigan Capitol Confidential reported April 16.

“Unfortunately, Right to Work protections for Michigan’s private-sector employees ended this February as a consequence of a repeal scheme rubber-stamped by Big Labor legislators and signed by union-label Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last year despite overwhelming public opposition.

“But thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 Janus decision, which was argued and won by a National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorney, teachers and other public servants in Michigan and every other state now enjoy the freedom not to bankroll an unwanted union under the First Amendment.

“That’s why government union chiefs and their allied politicians are having to resort to convoluted means to keep Michigan parents, schoolchildren, and teachers under their thumbs.”

‘We Simply Cannot Afford To Have It Become A Competing School’

A notable case in point is H.B.5025. Union-lackey legislators in Lansing are pushing for passage of this scheme, which would empower Big Labor-owned local school officials to prevent the abandoned buildings of government schools almost no one wanted their kids to attend from being repurposed as charters.

Unless and until state politicians do their bidding by enacting H.B.5025, union-label local government officials like Carol Finkelstein, the treasurer of the board of education in West Bloomfield, Mich., claim they have little choice but to blow up abandoned buildings like the Roosevelt Elementary School.

In February testimony supporting H.B.5025, Ms. Finkelstein emphasized that she and her fellow board members really don’t want to destroy this beautiful, 104-year-old structure in Keego Harbor. But if they don’t, she explained, “there is a chance” that developers “could flip it to a parochial school, to a private school, Montessori or a charter,” and “we simply cannot afford to have it become a competing school.”

While Ms. Finkelstein could not quite bring herself to vote for destruction of Roosevelt, a board majority did, and the building is standing as this Newsletter goes to press in late April only because of a court-ordered delay of the demolition.

“The looming blow-up of Roosevelt Elementary shows just how far union bosses’ politicians will go to perpetuate Big Labor’s monopoly power to bargain over teachers’ pay, benefits, and work rules,” concluded Mr. Kalb.

This article was originally published in our monthly newsletter. Go here to access previous newsletter posts.

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