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David Hecker, AFT Michigan President

David Hecker, AFT Michigan President

How insulting to teachers, support staff, and faculty.

As you may know, the Michigan Education Association (MEA), a democratic union, has had a long standing state-wide policy concerning a member opting out of the union and no longer supporting their colleagues. Any member may opt out in August.

AFT Michigan does not have a state policy. We leave it locals. However, we fully respect how MEA handles it. After all, it was a policy democratically decided upon.

And, it is pretty easy to understand. I no longer wish to support my colleagues, so I need to inform the MEA in August before the start of the school year. I happen to think MEA members can figure that one out. Of course, very, very few choose to opt out because they understand the importance of joining together with their colleagues to have a voice in the workplace.

Apparently the Mackinac Center and Americans for Prosperity (the Koch brothers and DeVos family) do not think all that well of teachers, staff and faculty. They seem to believe that these educators cannot read, cannot think, and cannot make decisions on their own. These right-wing, anti-public education, anti-working people organizations have put on an expensive comprehensive campaign—ads, letters, and more—to urge MEA members to not think for themselves, but to have the Mackinac Center and Americans for Prosperity think for them.

Now this is all not that surprising. After all it was these two far right groups that pressured Republican legislators and the Governor to pass right to work. And, of course, the Republican legislators and the Governor caved to the money and threats.

It is these groups that spend millions in support of school vouchers.

These are the groups that see profit in public education as a business.

These groups stand opposite us on almost every issue.

And it is the Koch brothers who are spending millions and millions to stop Congressman Gary Peters, a staunch advocate for public education and working people, from becoming our United States Senator replacing the retiring Carl Levin.

And when all is said and done, they will take a good chunk of their over 83 billion in net worth to not only defeat Congressman Peters but re-elect Governor Snyder so they can continue their work of profiteering from public services, and dismantling unions or any other group that works for fairness and equality.

So while Snyder and Republican Senatorial candidate Land are the ones on the ballot, it is really the Koch Brothers and the Mackinac Center.

So that is our choice not just on November 4, but during the preceding weeks. Are we going to vote for the Mackinac Center or are we going to work and vote for Mark Schauer, a compassionate leader and a strong advocate for public education and working people when in the Michigan legislature and Congress? Mark Schauer, true to who he is, issued a public statement condemning the proposed additional ten percent pay cut for Detroit Public Schools’ teachers and staff.

Are we going to vote for the Koch Brothers or are we going to send Congressman Gary Peters, a stalwart in support of our issues when he was in the Michigan legislature and in now in Congress to the U.S. Senate?

For me it is an easy one. I will not only be voting for Mark Schauer and Gary Peters, but will be knocking on doors, making phone calls, speaking at meeting and doing everything and anything I can do to get these friends of public education and working people elected. I hope you will join me.

But I fully respect that time and consideration you will give to making that choice. Unlike the Mackinac Center and Americans for Prosperity I know you can think, act and decide on your own.

By David Hecker, AFT Michigan President

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