MEA Shows School Boards the Whip

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In Us vs. Them: The People and the Political Class I argued that true representative government has been supplanted by an inbred, self-serving, self-perpetuating political/government class and as a result, the government has escaped the control of the people.

 

Alarmist? Extreme? Consider this news item: A recall campaign has been launched against two members of the Wayne-Westland school board following an illegal MEA-inspired strike against the district in October. The details and context are such that no reasonable person can doubt that the MEA teachers union is the instigator of the effort. The illegal strike was at root over whether MESSA, the MEA’s money machine, would get the district’s health insurance loot, or whether school employees would obtain essentially the same coverage from another insurer at lesser cost.

 

Making MESSA a bargaining issue is itself prohibited by state law, but set that aside. The deeper meaning of this recall is that a group of lavishly compensated public employees and their union is its muscle to fire the district’s managers, who were selected by citizens to be the stewards of their school and tax money.

 

This is not just a cynical manipulation of the political system, it’s a perversion of the very concept of democracy. If the union’s recall is successful and becomes a common tactic then are not just approaching the tipping point where the government class amass such power and resources that efforts to dislodge them become futile – we will have passed it.

 

Here’s an analogy. Imagine that some residents of Wayne-Westland pooled their money and started a restaurant. They hired a manager, who hired cooks and waiters. Over time the waiters became surly, the food mediocre and the costs excessive. The manager cracked down, and in response the employees fired him.

 

Whoops – employees don’t hire and fire managers. That’s the owners’ prerogative. Apparently not when it comes to the management of an even more important institution, our school system. Not anymore, that is, if the MEA is successful.

 

Given the union’s deep pockets and rippling political muscles the recall may well succeed. Just last week the four members of the Reed City school board were recalled after angering the union by voting to privatize food and custodial services. That vote will save the district some $300,000 taxpayer dollars a year, or about $200 per student, as reported by the Education Action Group. (Incidentally, privatization decisions are another prohibited bargaining area, but the House has passed a bill to repeal that.)

 

Of course the union will argue that the final recall decision is in voters’ hands, so there is no corruption of the democratic process. Sure – the same way a 95-pound weakling going into the ring against the heavyweight boxing champion is a fair fight. Most school board members are political amateurs with little campaign savvy or ability to raise money – their adversary here is exactly the opposite.

 

Motivated and empowered by its concentrated benefits, in regular school elections the MEA already has outsized advantages over the dispersed interests of taxpayers. These recalls are showing the whip to school board members pressured by the realities of the job, reminding them to always place the union’s interests ahead of the taxpayers.

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One Response to “MEA Shows School Boards the Whip”

  1. EAG Says:

    In Reed City, the board voted to privatize, so the $300,000 will be saved each year. The recall process was intiated 3 weeks before the vote this past spring.

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