Mackinac Center Legal Foundation Client a Possible Plaintiff in Challenging MEA’s Opt Out Process for Agency Fee Payers

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013
Ted O'Neil
Media Relations Manager

MIDLAND —Mackinac Center Legal Foundation Director Patrick J. Wright said today a client could become the plaintiff in either a federal lawsuit or a new unfair labor practice charge against the Michigan Education Association over the arbitrary “August Window” that limits when and how members can resign from the union.

“This window was created by the MEA and the Michigan Employment Relations Commission approved it in 2004,” Wright said. “It’s next to impossible for teachers to get information about it from the union, and the timing is very suspect.”

The MCLF’s client, Amy Breza, is a paraeducator in the Clarkston Community Schools. She originally was part of a group of eight educators on whose behalf the MCLF filed unfair labor practice complaints at MERC against the MEA. Those 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.

“Amy is not currently eligible for right-to-work, but she wants to explore her First Amendment rights into becoming an agency fee payer immediately,” Wright said. “Her union and the Clarkston school board signed a contract extension in March to skirt around the new right-to-work law and failed to update their online documents, so she’s locked into paying through June of 2016.”

More than 140 districts statewide signed contract extensions with their unions before right-to-work took effect on March 28, thereby prohibiting tens of thousands of MEA members from being eligible to exercise their worker freedom rights and limiting them to just seeking agency fee payer status.

“The contract extension is forcing her to still pay or risk losing her job,” Wright explained. “It is trampling all over her freedom of association rights. We’re going to review our legal options and proceed from there, which could include a federal lawsuit or an amended unfair labor practice complaint at MERC.”

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich. The largest state-based free-market think tank in the country celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.


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