Though most districts adhered closely to the requirements of Public Act 349, the sections that follow indicate how varied the interpretation of the law was by the districts that did not plainly stick to the language of the law. Described below are five different issues identified in this survey of teachers union contracts with regard to the implementation of Public Act 349:

  • Illegal Language: Twenty-three districts ratified their collective bargaining agreements for teachers after March 28, 2013, but left the language Public Act 349 forbids unchanged.

  • Separate Agency Fee Agreement: Eight districts approved a separate “agency fee agreement” before the March 28, 2013, deadline, with expiration or effective dates incongruent with the main collective bargaining agreement.

  • Delayed Effective Dates: Fifteen contracts were ratified by districts and unions prior to March 28, 2013, but the effective date of the contract does not occur until months later.

  • Split Effective Dates: Five districts approved contracts where the provision concerning mandatory union dues and fees took immediate effect (prior to March 28, 2013), but the other provisions of the contract took effect months later.

  • Modified Contracts: At least six districts agreed to contracts prior to March 28, 2013, that kept mandatory union dues and fees, but have since that date added a “letter of understanding” or modified the terms of the contract in some other way without removing the language forcing teachers to financially support a union as a condition of employment.

These five issues impact a quarter of Michigan districts that ratified or modified their teacher contracts after Public Act 349 went into effect. Addressing these issues is important not only for the more than 10,000 full-time public school teachers employed by the districts with these contracts, but also because over the next two years, 120 additional school districts will need to comply with Public Act 349 for the first time, impacting nearly 25,000 teachers.[*]


[*] This tally is of districts that have contracts that went into effect before March 28, 2013 and are set to expire in 2014 through August 2016. Author’s calculation based on “2013-14 Pupil Headcount Data: Fall 2013 Enrollment Data” (Center for Educational Performance and Information, 2013), http://goo.gl/pEuZmh (accessed July 30, 2014); “School Personnel Data and Reports: Full Time Equivalencies Data” (Center for Educational Performance and Information, Dec. 2013), http://goo.gl/9CqVYv (accessed July 30, 2014).