The local only union option continues to attract interest. Teachers in a northern Michigan school district recently voted two to one to break away from the state and national union and form their own independent bargaining organization. As reported by a local TV news affiliate, the president of the new Roscommon Teachers Association explained why so many of his colleagues took this unusual step:
“We’ve exercised the death penalty. We’re exercising our right to say, we’re your customer and we’re not buying you stuff anymore. I hope that’s the message they get,” said interim RTA president James Perialas.
The Michigan-based Mackinac Institute’s Tom Gantert notes that within a few years the new independent organization will be able to provide all the needed member services for less than half the $960 dues paid this year to the Michigan Education Association and National Education Association.
A driving motivation to break ties is the fact of lofty 2011 salaries for MEA officials — including more than $235,000 for then-president Iris Salters and nearly $200,000 for then-vice president Steven Cook. Gantert reports that the average Roscommon teacher made $62,312 during the same time frame.
Unlike in Michigan, Colorado teachers have a recognized choice whether or not to join and pay union dues. And local school boards are not bound by state law to recognize unions as exclusive bargaining agents. Colorado has no local-only teachers unions as an existing membership option. Joining a labor organization requires automatically paying dues to to all levels — including the state and national union.