Kyle Olson

When it rains it pours for the Michigan Education Association.

It was recently defeated on Election Day when it attempted to pass a ballot proposal that would have enshrined collective bargaining in the state constitution. Now it’s in full panic mode about a rumored Right to Work bill that may be introduced in the state legislature.

So as the union’s power is waning, it appears the cupboard may be going bare, too.

The MEA has been foundering under staggering liabilities for the last few years, and it may have just gone over the cliff.

Despite only a minor drop in membership – less than 2 percent – a recently-filed financial report reveals the union’s net assets dropped from $-111 million to $-159 million in one year.

That appears largely due to a massive increase in its pension liability for its own employees

The union’s 2011 report revealed its pension and health care liability was $163,921,351. In 12 months, it ballooned by $44.6 million to a new total of $208,524,148. This increase accounts almost completely for the union’s massive $48 million drop in net assets.

The irony, of course, is that the union is suffering from the same type of pension liability headaches it routinely imposes on school districts and the state government.

The union is learning that it costs too much to guarantee employees sweet pension deals, particularly during hard times. Given that reality, one might expect the MEA to have more mercy on local school boards and the state when it comes to demanding cushy pensions for teachers.

MEA employees have demanded from the union what the union has been demanding on behalf of its dues payers. It’s a vicious, unsustainable cycle and everyone is paying the price.

Kyle Olson

Kyle is founder of Education Action Group and, a news service dedicated to education reform and school spending research, reporting, analysis and commentary.

He is co-author of Glenn Beck’s “Conform: Exposing the Truth About Common Core and Public Education,” available at

Kyle is a contributor to

He has made appearances on the Fox News Channel, The Blaze, Fox Business Network, NPR and MSNBC. Kyle has given scores of interviews on talk radio programs coast to coast.

Kyle likes talking about his family, as well as his favorite music. Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, Neil Young and Johnny Cash are at the top of the list. He has attended 25 Bob Dylan shows.

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