Corporatism, Education, Labor, Teachers — June 11, 2014 at 12:18 pm

AUDIO: Mackinac Center staffer claims emails urging teachers to leave union aren’t “political” (UPDATED)


po·lit·i·cal – /pəˈlitikəl/ – adjective: of or relating to the government or the public affairs of a country

Updated with video of Rachael Siemen asking her question.

Yesterday at a forum at the Michigan House Office Building, the Mackinac Center brought in a representative from another notorious corporatist front group, The Heritage Foundation, to spew propaganda regarding the raising of the minimum wage. During the question and answer period following the presentation, UAW Local 6000 member Rachael Siemen asked Mackinac Center staffer Vincent Vernuccio a simple question regarding a recent email sent spammed out to thousands of public school teachers in Michigan urging them to leave the Michigan Education Association teachers union. The email came from small-town teacher Peter Boyd but was aided and abetted (openly) by the Mackinac Center itself. At last count it went to teachers in over 50 different school districts.

Here was her question:

The Mackinac Center pushed for legislation that denies teachers unions from using school emails. Your reasoning was school infrastructure should not be used for politics. Why is the Mackinac Center now sending political emails to teachers encouraging them to drop their union?

Vernuccio’s response, which came later in the program, was astonishing:

That’s not political. It has nothing to do with legislation. It has nothing to do with elected officers. … Where’s the politics?

Vernuccio is, apparently, defining “political” only as things related to specific legislation or elections, something few people would agree with him on.

He later got into a verbal sparring match with Siemen. You can listen to the audio here, courtesy of Progress Michigan:

Here’s the transcript:

Rachael Siemen: You can’t use school email…

Vincent Vernuccio: For politics…

Siemen: And you guys are using it for politics by encouraging teachers to opt-out, so how do you justify that?.

Vernuccio: It’s not political.

Siemen: It is political.

Vernuccio: It has nothing to do with legislation. It has nothing to do with elected officers. Elected representatives, the legislature, the governor’s office, where’s the politics?

Siemen: But you pushed legislation to that…they can’t use their school email for any political activity. And you’re encouraging people…

Vernuccio: That email had nothing to do with politics. Tell me what in that email was political?

Siemen: It has everything to do with politics. If you’re encouraging teachers to drop out of the union, how do you justify that? How does that not have to do with politics? I mean, that’s your main agenda.

Vernuccio: It has to do with being in the MEA or exercising their Right to Work rights.

Siemen: So what business is it of yours then?

Vernuccio: Well, we would rather it be the MEA’s business, but Doug Pratt, the MEA membership director, said that the MEA is not in the business of informing their members on how to resign. So somebody has to and unfortunately that somebody is us.

Siemen: But…


Siemen: You’re saying that… it’s completely political. You’re not letting… You’re the ones who pushed for teachers not being able to have their union dues taken out of their paycheck. That was one thing the Mackinac Center did.

Vernuccio: That wasn’t in the email.

Siemen: I’m saying that’s a political thing though. That’s your political agenda.

Vernuccio: But it had nothing to do with the email. In fact, any link in the email went to the website that was separate from the Mackinac Center, now, the Mackinac Center’s name is on the website, truth in advertising.

However, there is nothing political anywhere on the August Opt-Out website, which was the only link contained in the email.

Siemen: So your position you’re telling me right now, Vincent, that’s…not political…that email that you sent out to teachers. Is that your position?

Vernuccio: There is no stance on any legislation or any elected official within the state Michigan.

Siemen: So your position as a method is not political, correct? Is that what you’re telling me?

Vernuccio: I believe politics deals with legislation and elected officials and none of that was in the email for or against, so, yeah, there was nothing to do with politics in that email.

This sort of disingenuousness and pretense that they are simply doing some sort of civic duty in their political action is typical of the Mackinac Center. However, the fact is that they want nothing more than to destroy public employee unions in this state and the MEA is top on their list. Need proof? Here’s proof from an email sent to House Education Committee member Tom McMillin by Mackinac Center senior legislative analyst Jack McHugh:

Our goal is (to) outlaw government collective bargaining in Michigan, which in practical terms means no more MEA,” wrote Jack McHugh, of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, to state Rep. Thomas McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, the newly appointed head of the House Education Committee in a June 1 email.

To suggest that their aims are not political is absurd, of course, and everyone knows this.

MEA president Steven Cook released a video yesterday warning MEA members about the insidious tactics being used by the Mackinac Center on behalf of their corporate backers:

Make no mistake: the email sent to thousands and thousands of MEA member using lists obtained by Mackinac Center FOIA requests IS political.

To suggest otherwise is ridiculous and a blatant lie.