MEA allows 2 teachers to resign from union after complaints filed

The Michigan Education Association is backing off its efforts to collect dues from two teachers who wanted to leave the union — months after unfair labor practices complaints were filed on behalf of the teachers by a foundation that says the union is violating the state’s right-to-work laws.

But union officials say they will continue to fight to implement the bylaws that have been in place for decades that require members who want to resign from the union to do so during the month of August.

“There were extenuating circumstances that caused us to review their reason for wanting to opt out and the fact that it did not occur in August,” said Nancy Knight, spokeswoman for the MEA. “We review these cases on a case-by-case basis, and it was determined that we would indeed let them opt out.”

The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation — an arm of the conservative Midland-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy — filed the complaints against the MEA on behalf of Miriam Chanski, who teaches in Coopersville Area Public Schools, and Ray Arthur, who teaches in the Public Schools of Petoskey. Complaints also are pending on behalf of several more Michigan teachers.

“Miriam and Ray have received all of the relief they requested and are now free to enjoy the benefits of Michigan’s right-to-work law,” Patrick Wright, director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, said in a news release. “The law is very clear. If you work in a union setting, you are not required to financially support the union as a condition of employment.”

At issue is the controversial right-to-work rules — passed during the lame-duck legislative session in 2012 — that make it illegal to require financial contributions to a union as a condition of employment.

The foundation says the union’s attempt to collect dues from teachers who did not resign during August violates right-to-work. But the union believes it should be allowed to continue following its decades-old bylaws.

At any rate, Knight said, the union has and will continue to review the cases on an individual basis.

Since right-to-work rules went into place, about 1,500 members have opted out of the union — about 1% of the total membership of 150,000.

The other unfair labor practice complaints are pending before the Michigan Employment Relations Commission, the foundation said in its release. A lawsuit was filed Friday in Oakland County Circuit Court on behalf of a Novi teacher, Susan Bank, who alleges the MEA threatened to turn her over to a collection agency for not paying union dues.

Contact Lori Higgins: 313-222-6651 or Follow her on Twitter @LoriAHiggins.


Posted by Tribune News Services

Leave a Reply