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A 'Union Boss' Responds to the Opponents of Proposal 2

There's too much talk about 'union bosses' and Proposal 2. This 'Union Boss' will tell you why voting YES will save our public schools from being destroyed by radicals in the Legislature.

I found my passion in life as a teacher in Trenton Public Schools, fifteen years ago. I've never really seen myself as anything other than a dedicated, happy teacher, delighted to shut my door every day, light a great many intellectual fires, and marvel at what my students accomplish every day. My dedication has since expanded to the entire Trenton educational community, when my colleagues elected me to lead them, and I've done so to the best of my ability.

Those efforts by myself and thousands of other so-called 'union bosses' haven't stopped this Legislature's relentless efforts to wreck collective bargaining--and by extension, public education. So when I started hearing about 'the power of union bosses' being 'enshrined in the Michigan Constitution' by opponents of Proposal 2, I had to laugh at how ridiculous that sounds.

I remember spending a good deal of time in Lansing, trying to explain to one Republican state senator that academia is very different from the private sector, and how his idiotic 'cyber schools' idea could not possibly do the job that our public schools do regularly. My fellow Michigan Education Association colleagues all over the state tried to show this Republican legislature the error of its ways in trashing public education.

It all fell on deliberately deaf ears, because these radicals had their own agenda.

More charter schools and 'cyber schools' have been promoted, despite plenty of evidence showing their performance ranging from unproven to horrendous.

Teacher tenure has been crippled, tempting administrators all over the state to satisfy personal grudges and fire effective teachers with impunity.

Seniority in placements and layoffs has been abolished--with the intent of dumping experienced teachers in favor of 'cheaper' ones, which will prove the old adage that you get what you pay for.

Teachers have had 3% of their income illegally stolen from them for quite some time, in the guise of retirement health care reform.

These are only a few examples of Republican educational 'reforms.'

Their plan to 'reform' public education out of existence is simple: drastically cut and withhold the funds schools need, rig tests to make public schools fail, mostly through too much weight on an 'achievement gap' on standardized state tests along with artificially high 'cut scores,' then hand over those 'failed schools' to private companies.

What, you may ask, does any of this have to do with Proposal 2? EVERYTHING.

Governor Snyder and the Republicans in the Legislature have perverted the whole collective bargaining process with their so-called 'education reforms,' putting too much power in the hands of school administrators. If they succeed in opposing Proposal 2, they'll do more than pervert the process--they'll try to abolish it for all public sector employees. Do you think they'll stop there, and leave private sector unions alone? I think not. What will happen to the middle class then?

Proposal 2 won't do anything for me personally that it won't do for everyone in the state. It actually does enshrine something for all of us: a fair process for collective bargaining away from the Legislature's ability to screw it up, or abolish it altogether. It will be there for everyone to benefit from--like it is in several other states.

I'm a firm believer in public schools being the best guarantor of social mobility and the best hope for a bright future for our children. I stand opposed to all efforts to destroy it, and I reject that ridiculous notion that the leadership of democratic unions like the one I represent can somehow subvert democracy.

Public education, public sector employees, and collective bargaining are all too important to be messed with by radicals in the Legislature. That's why this 'union boss' will vote YES on Proposal 2, and hopes that you do the same on November 6.

Mark Hoffman
District Director
Trenton Education Association

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

ttownmom October 25, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Thank you Mr. Hoffman for the well written piece. I support Prop 2 100% because the current decision makers have brought unfairness to a whole new level. If it wasn't for them workers wouldn't need such protection.
Web Spin October 28, 2012 at 05:48 AM
If workers have the right to form unions, why not businesses too? A see a dozen bankrupted gas stations in our area, if they all got together and upped the price of gas to "make a living wage" you'd you like that? Funny how quick joe six pack has an opinion of how huge the profits are but can't answer why Wyandotte has over a 100 closed businesses, Trenton dozens, Southgate... No more extortion, no more unions.
Web Spin October 28, 2012 at 05:50 AM
What about my rights as a tax payer. Last month 22,000 Wayne county properties were foreclosed on by the county for delinquent taxes. Were are those people's rights??? Why are my civil servants earning more (far more) than the tax payer paying them?
Robert Barbantini October 29, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Geeeez! Trenton Resident, you don't HAVE to join a Union! Even now. And, Robofsemi, changing the Constitution is allowable especially after Governor Snyder and the Republican legislature CHANGED IT to benefit businesses. Collective bargaining allows workers to have certain rights that all have. Without collective bargaining, workers are at the will of the employer and that CAN prove detrimental to society as a whole. If there only honest, hard working employees AND employers existed, there would be no need for collective bargaining. Until that utopia appears, workers need protection and that protection also provides employers with certain protections too. Collective bargaining works both ways. So let's vote. And we will live by the rule of the majority. By the way, I retired as a non-Union teacher but am in full support of collective bargaining.
Robert Barbantini October 29, 2012 at 01:10 AM
Corrected copy-Geeeez! Trenton Resident, you don't HAVE to join a Union! Even now. And, Robofsemi, changing the Constitution is allowable especially after Governor Snyder and the Republican legislature CHANGED IT to benefit businesses. Collective bargaining allows workers to have certain rights that all have. Without collective bargaining, workers are at the will of the employer and that CAN prove detrimental to society as a whole. If only honest, hard working employees AND employers existed, there would be no need for collective bargaining. Until that utopia appears, workers need protection and that protection also provides employers with certain protections too. Collective bargaining works both ways. So let's vote. And we will live by the rule of the majority. By the way, I retired as a non-Union teacher but am in full support of collective bargaining.

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