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Michigan Teacher Union Loses Big Since Right-to-Work

Brandon Grysko, Esq.

The Michigan Education Association (MEA), the state's largest teachers union, has lost 28% of its membership since right-to-work was passed in Michigan six years ago. At least one bargaining unit, the Roscommon Teachers Association, left the MEA entirely to go it alone as an independent union. According to Jim Perialas, President of the Roscommon Teachers Association, the MEA was "mean and nasty" towards those that opted out under the right-to-work law. Perialas felt that the MEA should have worked harder to win members back, rather than using bullying and strong-arm tactics to reign in the defectors.

The union-membership decline isn't limited to the MEA. The Michigan arm of the American Federation of Teachers has had a 22% decline since right-to-work. But the opt-out issue may not affect all unions the same. After the Supreme Court's famous (or infamous) Janus decision, many predicted that even non-right-to-work states would see a sharp decline in union membership. However, many states have seen the opposite. But it's too soon to say what the full impact of Janus will be. Anti-union groups feel it's only a matter of time (and a little anti-union lobbying) until more workers see the light and opt out of the union.

In the meanwhile, unions will have to be more competitive than ever in order to entice new hires to join their ranks and to keep their existing members engaged.

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