Summary of Public Act 349 and Typical Responses

Michigan’s right-to-work law states that any individual employed by a “public employer” cannot be required to pay “any dues, fees, assessments, or other charges or expenses of any kind or amount.” Further, public sector employees cannot be required to contribute to a charity or other party “in lieu” of paying dues or fees.[7]

Under Public Act 349, public employees now have the option of opting out of their union altogether, for any reason. The law applies to any “agreement, contract, understanding, or practice” that took effect after March 28, 2013, or was “extended or renewed” after that date.[8]

In light of this law, most districts have completely removed any language pertaining to mandatory dues, “agency fees” or “service fees.” Forest Hills, a district just outside of Grand Rapids that employs about 670 teachers, previously required that all teachers “as a condition of employment,” pay union “dues or a service fee.”[9] In its new contract that took effect July 1, 2013, the Forest Hills district no longer includes any language that could be interpreted to require teachers to financially support a union as a condition of employment.[10]

The Tecumseh school district, a small school district in southeast Michigan, responded similarly. Prior to 2013, the district’s contract stated that union dues or agency fees would be automatically deducted from a teacher’s paycheck and remitted to the union if teachers did not make these payments themselves.[11] In Tecumseh’s new collective bargaining agreement, which took effect on Sept. 23, 2013, dues and agency fees are no longer mentioned.[12]

This survey found that more than 75 percent of Michigan school districts with contracts that took effect after March 28, 2013, removed mandatory dues language, similar to Forest Hills and Tecumseh.