The Sleeping Giant Awakens: Michigan Education Association To Back Snyder Recall Efforts
A2P Notes: This is filed under “Scoops & Scores” because you read it here first!
Michigan Education Association spokesman Doug Pratt told A2Politico recently via email that the MEA was not endorsing the citizen-led efforts to recall Governor Rick Snyder and as many as 20 Republican lawmakers. That was before the passage of House Bills 4625-4628—what MEA’s leaders obviously consider a frontal assault on teacher tenure, the middle-class, and the union’s 153,000 members. On July 1, 2011 at 12:39 p.m., the MEA announced on its own web site that it was joining the fray. In a release titled, “Tipping Point: House Bills 4625-4628: next step is recall of out-of-touch legislators,” MEA officials made it crystal clear that the organization intends to put its muscle behind the recall efforts:
Votes by lawmakers to take collective bargaining rights from public employees and make sweeping changes to teacher tenure will fuel grassroots efforts by voters in many communities who question whether their elected leaders deserve to remain in office.
With independent recall efforts already underway in many state House districts and against Gov. Rick Snyder, MEA will now get involved in many of those voter-led initiatives.
To date, MEA has not endorsed those efforts, though many members have chosen individually to get involved.
Our elected leaders need to know that we will not sit idly by as they try to dismantle public education, destroy the middle class, and defeat MEA and other public sector unions!
MEA will also consider supporting recall efforts of some senators.
More information about the next steps will be available soon, so stay tuned. You may be on break for the summer, but you must be engaged more than ever – for your students, your school, your community, and your profession!
The statement is a clarion cry to the organization’s members that the Michigan Education Association’s leadership is ready to take on Republican Governor Rick Snyder. The recall effort against Snyder, begun officially in April, was recently declared “deader than a door nail” by FOX 2 political consultant Tim Skubick. On June 24th, Skubick wrote:
Here’s an up to the minute update on the effort to recall Gov. Rick Snyder.
There is no update.
The good folks running this thing have clamped a cone of silence on the effort.
“We’re doing very well,” is the only comment one of the organizers would volunteer when asked how many signatures had been collected.
Does that mean they have ten thousand names or ten?
They ain’t saying.
Now the cynic might conclude, they obviously won’t release the number because it is so pitiful. To reveal it would indicate that the recall effort is deader than a door nail and that would erase any hope of gathering one million names by August 5th.
Twice Michigan Public Radio’s Jack Lessenberry has published essays that have called into question whether a recall effort against Rick Snyder can succeed. In the first essay, Lessenberry published factual errors, including this one, which Lessenberry pointedly refused to correct: “Michigan Citizens United can’t legally start collecting signatures till July 1st.” Then Lessenberry writes: “They would need a $1.5 million, at a minimum, to have a prayer.”
Well, it could be on July 1, 2011 their prayers were answered. The MEA has money, a PR machine that is virtually unparalleled in the state, and more importantly, a 150,000 member army that union leaders are adept at mobilizing during political campaigns. The final sentence of the MEA’s July 1 statement hints at this. Imagine 25,000 volunteers with nothing but summer time on their hands collecting signatures to recall Governor Rick Snyder and 20 Republicans in the Michigan House and Senate. Suddenly, the odds of collecting the 1.1 million signatures necessary to put the question of whether to recall Snyder on the ballot become much better. With 25,000 people collecting signatures, that’s just 44 signatures per collector, starting with 100,000 signatures from MEA’s own members, as well as signatures from members of unions with which the MEA is affiliated. Can you spell AFL-CIO? That group has 627,000 Michigan members and a Labor Solidarity Partnership Agreement with the National Education Association (NEA), the national parent union of the MEA.
If MEA President Iris Salters can convince NEA President Dennis Van Roekel to back the MEA financially in this battle, the Michigan Republican Party will find itself holding a dull knife in the middle of a gun fight. According to disclosures filed with the U.S. Department of Labor, the NEA has 3.2 million members nationally, and brought in a billion dollars in dues between 2007-2010.
A2Politico asked the Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, Mark Brewer, if his group will now support the MEA in its efforts to recall Republican Rick Snyder. Brewer’s spokesman, John Tramontana, sent along Brewer’s tight-lipped answer via email: “We do not disclose internal strategic discussions.”
On May 17, 2011 A2Politico posted a piece titled, “Michigan Dem Party Ignores Recall Efforts—MDP Facebook Page Bombarded By Furious Dems.” In that piece it was reported that:
On May 11th, Eclectablog posted an item that should let Michigan Democrats know exactly how far the Michigan Democratic Party is prepared to go to lend support to the efforts to repeal the Emergency Financial Manager legislation and the various recall efforts against Governor Rick Snyder and nine Republican state legislators. Chris Savage, the Ecletablogger writes:
Michigan Democratic Party chair, Mark Brewer met with at least some Benton Harbor City Commissioners this week. By now, you’ve probably hear that these Commissioners have been relieved of duty by Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) Joseph Harris.
At that meeting, I am told, Brewer stated that the MDP will not be supporting any of the recall efforts around the state to recall vulnerable Republicans and Governor Rick Snyder or the effort to citizens’ effort to repeal the new EFM law.
In a May 2011 piece about MEA financed attack ads aimed at Republican legislators who had voted to cut state education funding, A2Politico reported:
The Michigan Education Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association, took in over $199,000,000 in 2010, including dues from its 153,000 members who pay $620 each per year for representation. In 2010, according to documents filed with the U.S. Department of Labor, the organization spent $3.8 million on political activities, including lobbying…In the 2010 elections, the MEA donated a total of $1.041 million dollars to 315 Democratic and 67 Republican candidates. To put the MEA’s $1.041 million dollars in donations into perspective, Republican Rick Snyder self-funded $5.88 million dollars of his $11 million dollar campaign, and the Republican Governors Association, in Washington, DC., donated $5.21 million to candidates in Michigan, primarily through a $5.2 million dollar donation to the Michigan Republican Party. The Michigan House Democratic Fund spent $3 million dollars supporting 22 candidates for state office.
In April, Governor Snyder sent a lawyer to the Washtenaw County Building, where three county employees were set to determine whether the language on the recall petition was valid. In a 2-1 vote, the language was approved and the recall effort began to organize in earnest. Through his spokesperson, Governor Snyder told the media that he was taking the recall efforts “seriously.” When questioned by reporters about mass protests at the State Capitol Building, Snyder said the protests were “Democracy in action.”
No doubt, with the entry of the Michigan Education Association into the recall battles being waged by Michigan citizens across the state, Michigan’s Governor, as well as the 20 Republicans targeted are going to take the efforts much more seriously. Between now and August, when the Committee to Recall Rick Snyder expects to have gathered 1.1 million signatures, Snyder will get to experience what Democracy in action looks like when it’s being waged by one of the most experienced, best financed, and most powerful political players in the state of Michigan in solidarity with a grassroots effort led by citizens state-wide.
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