Monroe Public Schools assistant superintendent quick to acknowledge that changes should be made
Unlike school officials in some other districts, the assistant superintendent of the Monroe Public Schools acknowledges that its union contract for teachers has provisions that are in violation of the state's right-to-work law and says they should be removed.
The union contract, which runs from March 1, 2014 to Aug. 15, 2016, states that a teacher must pay union dues or an agency fee as a condition of employment. That is in conflict with the state's right-to-work law that took effect March 28, 2013.
Assistant Superintendent Ryan McLeod said the school district doesn't follow the illegal practices spelled out in the contract. In particular, he said the district does not deduct union dues from teacher paychecks and also has not followed through on the language to fire teachers who don't pay union dues or an agency fee to the union.
"Our practices have changed and this does not reflect what those practices are,” McLeod said. "This absolutely should be taken out."
Other school districts have not been as forthcoming about following the law. A school official from the Wyoming Public Schools, for example, said the Kent County district kept illegal language in its contract because they think it is unenforceable. The teachers union contract in the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools in Wayne County also has language in it that could be in violation of the state's right-to-work law, though district officials maintain the contract went into effect before right-to-work was in place.
A 2012 law made it illegal for school districts to automatically deduct union dues or fees from teacher paychecks. The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law in May.
Monroe's McLeod said the district's last round of contract negotiations were mostly focused on economic concessions, not on the union provisions about dues collection and teacher firing. He said the district does not even track who is a member of the union.
The school district, located in Monroe County, has 348 teachers. The Monroe School Board ratified the union contract at its March 4, 2014, meeting. The board members for the Monroe Public Schools are: Robert Yeo, Lawrence VanWasshenova, June Knabusch-Taylor, Tedd March, Wendy Spicer, Aaron Mason and Ryan Philbeck. Board members did not respond to an email seeking comment.