The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, September 26, 2014

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman

RTW push claims 5,000 in MEA

The Michigan Education Association (MEA) announced Sept. 4 that fewer than 5,000 of its members opted out of the union during August. The MEA’s rules say that August is the only month of the year when members can opt out of paying union dues under Michigan’s new right-to-work law. That rule is being challenged in the courts.
“Despite a relentless campaign by outside forces determined to discredit and destroy the MEA, more than 95 percent of our members stayed,” said MEA President Steve Cook. “Our members’ message to these groups is that they believe in the MEA and no amount of outside rhetoric is going to dissuade them. They believe the MEA is the voice for what’s best for public education and for school employees.”

That “outside rhetoric” primarily came from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Formerly only a conservative policy think tank, the group, funded by wealthy unnamed donors, has become an anti-union, anti-worker activist group. They sponsored a public relations push last summer to inform teachers of their right to opt out of the union in August, and are undertaking the legal case challenging the union to require members to opt-out only in the month of August.

The MEA, according to a report by We Party Patriots, has 110,000 active members. Representatives from the Mackinac Center believe that only 60,000 members were eligible to opt out because their contract had provisions agreed upon before “Right-to-Work.” The remaining 50,000 would have had to pay fees even if they stopped paying union dues.


Time is short to register to vote 

Not registered to vote in Michigan’s all-important Nov. 4 general election?

It’s not too late, but the deadline is approaching. You can register to vote by mail; at your county, city, or township clerk’s office; or by visiting any Secretary of State branch office. The deadline this year is Monday, Oct. 6.

To register to vote, you must be all of the following: a U.S. citizen; at least 18 years old by Election Day; a resident of Michigan; and a resident of the city or township where you are applying to register to vote.

If you want to check to see if you are registered, visit There you will find information about registering to vote and voting, voting equipment, polling place locations, state and local ballots, the candidates, campaign finance and more. Your local clerk can help with questions about your voter registration, and polling place location.

Can’t make it to the polls on Election Day? Vote absentee. Request and absentee ballot at your local clerk’s office or get an application online at the same web address as above.