For Immediate Release
Monday, Oct. 21, 2013
Marketing and Communications Team Leader
MIDLAND — The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation today filed unfair labor practice complaints at the Michigan Employment Relations Commission on behalf of eight public schools teachers against their respective local affiliates of the Michigan Education Association.
The teachers believe they have been bullied and intimidated by the state’s largest teachers union for trying to exercise their rights under Michigan’s new worker freedom law, and that information has been kept from them that caused them to miss the chance to resign from the union during the arbitrary “August Window” created by the MEA and approved by MERC in 2004.
“Educators spend a lot of time trying to bring about an end to bullying in schools, yet the MEA thinks it’s perfectly fine to do it to their own members,” said Patrick J. Wright, director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation. “The union has gone so far as to tell people their names would be turned over to a collection agency if they refused to reveal private information such as credit card and bank account numbers.”
The MCLF clients claiming unfair labor practices against the MEA and their respective locals are: Miriam Chanski, (Coopersville Education Association); William “Ray” Arthur, (Petoskey Education Association); Amy Breza (Clarkston Paraeducators Association); Matthew Knapp, (Saginaw Education Association); Kurt Alliton (Saginaw Education Association); Susan Romska (Saginaw Education Association); Jason LaPorte (Saginaw Education Association); and Kathy Eady-Miskiewicz, (Saginaw Education Association).
Chanski, a 24-year-old kindergarten teacher in Coopersville, was given an “e-dues” form in May after a court ruling upheld Michigan’s law making it illegal for school districts to deduct union dues from payroll checks. The union expected teachers to turn over private financial information so that dues could be collected electronically. Chanski said she wrote at the top of the form that she wished to resign from the union. In September, Chanski said an MEA representative told her that her name could be turned over to a collections agency.
“My credit is very personal to me and it’s something I take pride in,” Chanski said, adding that such an action by the union could hurt her chances of buying a house in the future.
The so-called “August Window,” Wright said, needs to be clarified by MERC.
“That was created not by statute but by bureaucratic fiat when the MEA claimed that processing paperwork from those who wanted to become agency fee-payers was too much of a burden to handle immediately despite those workers’ First Amendment rights being at stake,” he said. “It is our belief that MERC should overturn that prior ruling or that Michigan’s new right-to-work law supersedes that ruling.”
(Editor's note: One of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation's clients, Amy Breza, could be a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against the MEA over the union's opt out process for agency fee payers or an amended unfair labor practice complaint filed at MERC. Please see here for more details.)
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