Vincent Vernuccio

On Friday September 9, Michigan State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) announced he would introduce legislation giving teachers in his state right to work protections. The bill already has the support of Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall.) Richardville’s Freedom to Teach Act would allow teachers in Michigan to choose whether or not to join a union. Currently, Michigan educators are forced to pay union dues simply to keep their jobs.

In his press release Richardville said he wants to “keep more money in the pockets of teachers.” The Majority Leader noted that the money taken in the form of forced dues “belongs to the teacher that earned it [and that] it is up to them to contribute based on personal choice, not because the school district extracts it from paychecks and deposits it in the hands of the union bosses.”

The bill is part of several education reforms giving more choice to teachers, parents, and children. Among other reforms are bills which would allow the expansion of charter schools and allow access to online learning. Last week, the Michigan House passed a bill, which would not go as far as Richarville’s but would bar the state from collecting dues for teachers unions.

Rep. Joe Haveman (R-Holland), the bill's primary sponsor told The Detroit News, "I don't understand how giving people money back in their paycheck is a bad thing … It makes [unions] more accountable.” Yet that may be precisely what the union and its allies don’t want. Leading opposition to the bill is Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing), whom Richardville criticized for wanting to “to continue to see hundreds of dollars removed from teachers pay to support a $200,000-a-year plus salary for union bosses who haven't seen the inside of a class room in years.”

Vincent Vernuccio

F. Vincent Vernuccio is Labor Policy Counsel at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.