Weaver v University of Cincinnati

Perhaps the most important court case of which school boards should be aware is Weaver v University of Cincinnati.118 Weaver addresses something common to all of Michigan's public school collective bargaining agreements: the indemnification clause. School boards rely on these clauses to protect them from any legal or financial consequences arising from their enforcement of union security procedures.

In Weaver, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that public employers have an independent duty to inform their employees of their constitutionally protected rights affirmed in the Hudson decision. Indemnity clauses that specify a union will hold a school board harmless in any legal and financial actions resulting from dues or service fee check-off deductions are no protection to school boards. Any public school employer who participates in establishing procedures which fail to adequately protect employee rights can be held financially liable to aggrieved employees under Weaver.

Weaver has serious implications for Michigan public school employers. Employees who object to paying union service fees are more frequently contesting the amounts they are being charged for non-bargaining activities. Under Weaver, the Court held the public employer accountable for ensuring that all Hudson requirements are followed: "A clause that relieves the employer of all consequences for its failure to assume and conscientiously carry out its duties, including even the cost of defending legal actions, is against public policy."119