Collective Bargaining: Bringing Education to the Table

Parents, teachers, and administrators share widespread dissatisfaction with public school education. Many place the blame for poor education on a lack of parental involvement, insufficient funds, poor teacher preparation, and so on. Few have focused on a major contributing factor to this failure: unionized teachers and collective bargaining.

The collective bargaining process both at and away from the negotiating table has a great impact on the cost of education and the ability of school boards—the elected bodies responsible for each community’s K-12 education—to educate and provide support services to students.

From the 1964 inception of public sector collective bargaining to the present, local boards of education have often been ill-equipped to deal with this crucial process. Whether through a lack of understanding of finance, confusion over the nuances of contract language, or ignorance of the high-pressure strategies and tactics used by public employee unions, school board members have found themselves besieged by union demands, the consequences of which they often do not fully understand.

Teachers—except for those trained by the unions themselves—also have little understanding of the process and typically rely on union leadership for information during bargaining. Citizens who support the school system financially and whose children are educated there are often confused and, at times, misled by contract negotiation rhetoric.


Part I: The State of School Collective Bargaining
1. Introduction
2. The History of Collective Bargaining in Michigan Public Education
3. Fundamentals of Collective Bargaining
4. Shortcomings of the Collective Bargaining Process

Part II: Advancing the State of School Collective Bargaining
1. Improving the Language in Collective Bargaining Agreements
2. Court Decisions
3. Conclusion

Format: PDF | Size: 5100 KB

Source: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Midland, Michigan

Author: La Rae G. Munk, J. D.