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Right-to-work will damage Michigan

December 13, 2012
Daily Press


Don't be fooled by the ad put on television by The Michigan Freedom Fund, which is paid for by the billionaire oil barons, the Koch brothers. It portrays a rosy picture of a right to work state. Really, it means right to work for lower wages, and is a union busting tactic.

I am a retired teacher who has gone to Florida and sometimes to Arizona in the winter. It is devastating to see the poverty that exists in both right to work states.

Teachers' wages are so low in Florida, that a teacher I met two years ago with 13 years experience earned only $33,000 per year, and in Arizona their wages were frozen.

In Arizona I was told by a realtor that if you are a business owner you can make it financially, but if you work for a business you make minimum wage. Just look at our southern states that are right to work states and you will see a divide of have and have nots with a small middle class.

That is exactly what Michigan will become! I am appalled that our governor and Republican legislators are taking this course of action. Gov. Synder deceived us by saying right to work wasn't on his agenda, and now he is going to sign the bill.

I would like to know why teachers have to take the hit for this economy. First they had to give $1.8 billion to businesses. Then bill 1040 stripped them of more money and benefits, and now, right to work legislation. Lansing is trying to make austere cuts and big time changes whereby we could lose local control.

When I started teaching in 1962, salaries were low and teachers who were ready to retire, told stories of how men teachers earned more than women, how school board members promised them more money the next year, but the raises never materialized because the school needed a new furnace or something else. Thank goodness for what followed because when unions bargained, we made a living wage. Now we are going to go backwards.

From 1965 until 1995 I taught with outstanding teachers at Lemmer School. As I look at what is happening on the school scene I feel badly for students that I encouraged to go into teaching, because they are having to endure these changes. Most teachers bought their own supplies when the classroom had very little.

Most teachers bought underprivileged kids clothing, food, or paid for music lessons for a child who otherwise could not afford it. Ellen Jensen coached pregnant teenage girls to keep their babies and was there during their deliveries. Don Aronson paid for programs for sixth graders when the school board didn't have the money to keep the programs going. Coaches Terry Duval and Dan Flynn were role models for wayward young boys. And the list goes on and on.

All Michigan teachers are in my prayers that we can turn things around. 2014 can't come soon enough. Each one of us will have a precious vote.

Marlene McGovern

Bark River



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