By Victor Skinner

LANSING, Mich. – A federal judge in Michigan issued a preliminary injunction this week blocking a state law that prohibits school districts from automatically collecting union dues from employee paychecks.

The law went into effect March 16, but doesn’t affect districts until their current union contracts expire. Judge Denise Page Hood issued the injunction Tuesday and is expected to issue a written ruling by Friday, the Detroit Free Press reports.

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The injunction means schools will be forced to continue to collect union dues from employee paychecks until a full hearing on the lawsuit is conducted. Teachers union bosses are predictably giddy that their guaranteed revenue stream may continue uninterrupted.

“We feel very, very confident that this decision will hold up,” American Federation of Teachers Michigan President David Hecker told the Free Press.

Doug Pratt, spokesman for the Michigan Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, took the rhetoric a step farther.

“This bill from day one was about political retribution,” Pratt told the Free Press. “It’s not about saving schools money. It’s not about improving accountability for unions. We’re already accountable to our members. We’re already transparent.”

Ironically, a recent poll says otherwise. Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and Governance released the results of a 2012 survey showing that a majority of Americans have a negative view of teachers unions. More telling is the fact that teachers with a favorable view of teachers unions dropped from 58 percent in 2011 to 43 percent this year.

Perhaps Pratt hasn’t seen the survey.

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Regardless, it’s clear that it’s time for teachers unions to prove their value to their members and the public. And there is no better way to hold union bosses accountable than putting the onus on their members to voluntarily send in dues payments. If union leaders are as accountable and transparent as Pratt suggests, the money will keep flowing through voluntary payments.

That’s how the real world works. Citizens speak with their money.  It’s time teachers unions in Michigan and elsewhere are subjected to that same reality.

Ari Adler, spokeswoman for House Speaker Jase Bolger, said it best when she reiterated state Republicans’ support for the law.

“Schools should not be serving as collection agencies between unions and their members. In addition, the educators in this state are better off when unions have to regularly prove their value to members instead of just presuming everything is fine because the money keeps rolling in automatically,” Adler told the Free Press.