Teachers unions conduct themselves a lot like the bullies on the playground

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PORTLAND, Mich. – A Portland, Michigan special education teacher recently penned a very well-written editorial for the Detroit News that puts the state teachers union’s thuggish tactics into proper perspective.
bulliesAs educators, administrators, parents and virtually everyone else involved with public education are working together to teach students that bullying in school is hurtful and wrong, MEA officials are sending another message in their attempt to force teachers to stay in the union in the wake of the state’s recent conversion to right-to-work status.

Teacher Brian Mishler, of Portland Public Schools, wrote:

“Instead of protecting people and standing up for the defenseless, the MEA has instead been reinforcing every ‘union thug’ stereotype by extorting its own members and pushing around the little guy. Eight Michigan teachers recently brought complaints with the state against the MEA, because they were threatened, lied to and intimidated into paying dues, even though they wanted to leave the union.

“One kindergarten teachers was even told the union would ruin her credit if she didn’t give in to their demands, threatening not just her pocketbook, but her financial stability for years to come.”

Mishler explained that under the state’s new right-to-work laws teachers and every other employee is supposed to be free to decide whether or not to join a union. According to the law, teachers can’t be forced to pay dues as a condition of employment.

But the MEA apparently views state laws as mere guidelines, and has tried to force teachers to pay up anyway. Union officials have “played dirty tricks with paperwork, lied to their own members about their options and actually sent enforcers to classrooms to threaten Michigan teachers,” Mishler wrote.

As teachers are lecturing students about the importance of respecting each other, and the devastating effects of bullying, many are watching over their shoulder because the MEA is lurking in the shadows, the teacher wrote.

“The MEA should stop pushing around its members and instead learn from them. Put an end to this selfish, money-driven bullying and do the right thing. Many Michigan teachers want to stay in the union, but many of them want to leave, too. They shouldn’t have to live in fear for making that choice,” Mishler wrote.

“A union is supposed to support its members and help them accomplish their goals. For many Michigan teachers that means breaking free of this vicious cycle and keeping their paycheck to themselves. Instead of bullying these teachers, the MEA should be helping them.”

For many Michigan teachers, the MEA’s conduct may be surprising. But ultimately, the union enforcers, lies, and bully tactics reinforce a simple truth about the MEA and virtually all other unions: the top concerns are power and money, and collecting as much of it as possible. Members and the public they serve are mere afterthoughts.

The MEA could give two hoots about schools, teachers, parents, or education, and the behavior of MEA officials in Michigan’s new right-to-work environment clearly proves it.

By Victor Skinner at EAGnews.org

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