Michigan Bill Addresses Union Official Time

Union bosses react to a bill submitted to the Michigan legislature that would put some control on release time for Michigan teachers and other public sector workers with the exception of police and firefighters.
Lori Higgins has the story in the Detroit Free Press online.

School districts would be prohibited from negotiating agreements that allow union leaders to be released from their jobs to perform union business — if the work is being done with district money.

The bill would impact all public unions, including health care employees who work in the public sector. But like the controversial right-to-work law, which makes it illegal to require dues payment to a union as a condition of employment, police and fire unions would be exempt from these rules if the bill passes.

Sen. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy, said union leaders on release time “leave the classroom and essentially they are working on behalf of the union. I don’t philosophically have a problem with that. The problem is that the taxpayer continues to pay this person’s salary as if they are teaching in the classroom.”

Knollenberg said nothing in the bill prohibits those relationships from continuing. And his legislation doesn’t bar release time — only the use of tax dollars to cover it.

“If it’s happening in one school district or one dollar of taxpayer money is being used for union activities, it’s one dollar too much,” he said. “And I think we can all agree that taxpayer money should be going towards the classroom.”