Thursday, December 1, 2011

Michigan's union-busters caught sending secret emails to pols

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Michigan, calls itself a "nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to improving the quality of life." But recently this far-right, free-market think tank has been exposed for its shady, very partisan, and possibly illegal lobbying of state politicians, aimed at nothing less than breaking the back of the state's teachers union and outlawing collective-bargaining in the state of Michigan.

According to Dave Murray, writing in the Grand Rapids Free Press, the Mackinac Center's true purposes were revealed in secret email communications with state lawmakers, including one from Mackinac's Jack McHugh to state Rep. Thomas McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, the newly appointed head of the House Education Committee. In his June 1 email, letting McMillin know exactly what was expected of him, McHugh wrote: 
“Our goal is (to) outlaw government collective bargaining in Michigan, which in practical terms means no more MEA.”
McMillin, described as a "vocal school choice and reform advocate," was named head of the Education Committee after former chairman, Rep. Paul Scott, R-Grand Blanc, was recalled by angry voters earlier this month. Before being recalled Scott had become the darling of Michelle Rhee and Michigan's T-Party Gov. Rick Snyder, after leading the charge against teachers' collective bargaining rights and raids on their pension fund. Rhee's front group, Students First donated heavily to help Scott avoid a recall effort.

Doug Pratt, the MEA’s public affairs director, said the comment reveals the Mackinac Center’s conservative, anti-union leanings that he believes are often cloaked behind glossy publications.
“It’s right there in black and white, exposing the group for what it really is,” Pratt said. “That proves that the Mackinac Center is nothing but a front for corporate special interests intent on destroying the middle class.”
When Murray's story broke, McMillin, obviously trying to avoid Scott's fate, immediately tried to distance himself from Mackinac, claiming that McHugh's emails “don’t represent my views.”

For more on the Mackinac Center see Fred Klonsky's blog and the MEA's website.
Cross-posted on my Schooling in the Ownership Society blog. 

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