Union limits information and dates available to teachers who want to leave
The Michigan Education Association says its members can only leave the union during a limited window in August, and on Wednesday it is scheduled to sit in front of an administrative law judge to explain why.
A group of Saginaw Public Schools teachers challenged the MEA's policies and filed unfair labor practice complaints with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission to get out of the union.
At the hearing before Administrative Law Judge Julia C. Stern the MEA is expected to defend its practices surrounding how it deals with members who want to leave the union as part of the state's right-to-work law. MEA officials have insisted that information about leaving was available to all members.
However, the union only informs members of the August window if they specifically ask about it.
MEA Executive Director Gretchen Dziadosz is expected to be questioned at the hearing.
The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation is representing the Saginaw teachers.
"We're looking forward to participating in the hearing and questioning the MEA about this issue," said Patrick Wright, director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation.
Michigan's right-to-work law allows workers to leave their union when their contract expires. The law also says workers can no longer be fired for not paying dues or fees as a condition of employment. Fees often amount to up to 90 percent of dues costs.
MERC operates within Michigan's Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and its purpose is to resolve labor disputes involving public and private sector employees by appointing mediators, arbitrators and fact finders. It also conducts union representation elections, determines appropriate bargaining units and makes decisions on unfair labor practice cases.