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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.

Robofsemi October 24, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Michigan's Constitution is not the place for this. Vote NO on any proposal looking to amend the Constitution to the benefit of only a select few. Any amendment to Michigan's Constitution should benefit the vast majority of Michigan residents if not all of them.
Nate Stemen (Editor) October 24, 2012 at 05:57 PM
What do you think of Mark Hoffman's view on Prop 2?
Les October 24, 2012 at 08:28 PM
It does not belong as part of the constitution -----why did the Union Bosses want it as a constitutional amendment ---simple ---once a constitutional amendment takes place you can mever get rid of it. You talk about being only for a small segment of the population ---anything that benefits the unions does not represent the majority of the people. Why is there so much lying from the unions in their advertisements for this bad proposal?
Mark Hoffman October 24, 2012 at 11:36 PM
...oh, I could go on and on and on since I teach government, and I do know a few things about Michigan's constitution, but I'll save that for Les down there... Your last sentence is a great reason why you should vote YES on 2. It benefits EVERYONE in the state! Wages rise across the board, small businesses benefit from increased sales because we all have more money in our pockets, the government gets more income tax revenue, skilled professionals get attracted to Michigan because jobs here pay more, the standard of living across the state rises...it's a long-term economic win for Michigan. On average, states that have collective bargaining are better off than those who don't. So it's a no-brainer. Vote YES on 2!
Mark Hoffman October 25, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Hey there Les! I'm glad you posted. Take a look at my reply above if you want to see how Proposal 2 benefits EVERYONE, not a few groups. Unions don't get more from Proposal 2; they just keep what they have now. You're right about constitutional amendments being hard to get rid of. That's the point, but not to 'enshrine union power'--what a crock!--amendments limit the power of the government, and this one will save ALL OF US from a Governor and a Legislature that's run amok. Trust me, they have...I saw them in action myself, sticking it to public schools. If they go down, so does your local community. If they wreck collective bargaining, they'll stick it to everyone except their fatcat donors. They'll get rich, while the rest of us lose on wages, benefits, working conditions, and so on. We working people have what we have in Michigan because what unions negotiated set the standard for everyone else...the 40-hour workweek being one of many, many examples of how you--yes, you, Les--benefit from collective bargaining. So tell me...what do you think the Protect Working Families coalition is lying to you about? Look at all their commercials here: http://protectworkingfamilies.com and try to find ANYTHING they're lying about. Looking forward to your reply, Les (or anyone else!)
S. Masters October 25, 2012 at 12:58 AM
I do not understand why people are so against amending the constitution for the betterment of all working people......this proposal, if passed stops the radical legislatures and their big corporate friends from taking away work place standards that unions have fought long and hard for....things like safe working environments, fair wages, 40 hour work week, etc...these are standards that every working person benefits from whether in a union or not....in addition, history teaches us that amendments are often necessary......without constitutional amendments women and African Americans would not be allowed to vote (US Constitutional Amendments 15 & 19)....there are numerous other amendments that have been added to protect the rights of citizens and limit the power of government......the framers of our National Constitution intended for amendments to be added as our nation or states grew and changed over time....amendments whether at the national or state level allow for this growth.....
Steven Rzeppa October 25, 2012 at 04:10 AM
I find it funny that you argue that collective bargaining has made other workers "lazy". Putting working person against working person is exactly what corporations are trying to do. Arguing about who should have it "less worse" is the race to the bottom. Corporate profits have never been higher in this country, and there is no reason to hold back on hiring or increasing benefits is to make themselves richer. If you don't like how hard you have to work without reward than maybe you should try and better your workplace with a collective bargaining agreement as opposed trying to destroy over a century's worth of historic precedent and achievement. If Prop 2 fails, it is almost certain the lame duck legislature will make Michigan a Right to Work state. R2W states have shown NO evidence of lower unemployment rates than non R2W states, just like there is NO evidence that charter schools improve education. Your trickle down economic theory has NEVER proven to work in application. http://www.minnpost.com/community-voices/2012/03/economic-and-political-truth-about-right-work-legislation http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/ravitch-why-states-should-say-no-thanks-to-charter-schools/2012/02/12/gIQAdA3b9Q_blog.html http://www.decisionsonevidence.com/2012/08/more-evidence-supply-side-trickle-down-economics-doesnt-work/ Remember that time all those union workers bankrupted the country? Yeah me either...
Mark Hoffman October 25, 2012 at 10:10 AM
...My economics? What do you think is incorrect? Another question: How familiar are you with charter schools? Very few compare with public schools in terms of quality. The proof is overwhelming. Here's one example, as it relates to the Chicago strike: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-rusin/chicago-charter-schools_b_1894337.html ...and I look forward to your replies!
JC October 25, 2012 at 12:04 PM
I am voting YES on proposal 2 because it will guarantee every working person the right to belong to a union. I don't think the government should have the right to deny it. The legislature has been taking away many of the rights that make working conditions better for everyone under the guise of "saving money." Hogwash. And I wouldn't want my child to be educated by a corporation. This is just the beginning because this legislature is making rules that will "trickle down" to every working person not just in the public sector.
Ron October 25, 2012 at 01:37 PM
I'm going yes on proposal 2 because I'm sick and tired of a few radical politicians stripping away the rights of people that have worked so hard to get them adopted. Collective bargaining represents a fair playing field for employees that typically cannot strike. Employees that we count on the most. Our police officers, fire fighters, teachers and nurses as example. That's why I'm voting yes on proposal 2 and you should too.
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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