Some districts ratified agreements prior to March 28, 2013, but set those agreements to take effect months later. This survey identified 15 districts with delayed effective dates, employing more than 2,700 teachers and enrolling about 46,000 students.[66] Since the law states that Public Act 349 applies to agreements that “tak[e] effect” after March 28, 2013, these contracts raise questions concerning their legality.[67]

In May 2014, Michigan Capitol Confidential reported that Wyoming Public Schools had agreed to a collective bargaining agreement prior to March 28, 2013, but that the agreement did not take effect until Aug. 15, 2013.[68] The contract states, “Any unit employee who is [not paying union dues] ... shall pay as a fee to the Association an amount determined by the Association.”[69] Wyoming Director of Finance and Human Resources Matt Lewis said that the language is “valid but innocuous. ... [W]e are a closed shop, but the district cannot threaten termination of an employee who refuses to pay union dues.”[70]

Wyoming teachers paid dearly for this unenforceable language. During contract negotiations, the Wyoming district proposed removing that language.[71] However, the Kent County Education Association responded to the district’s proposal by requesting that the illegal language be retained.[72] The district allowed the language to remain, in order to “completely alter” the district’s salary schedule (which cost some teachers $12,700 in salary annually), reduce paid leave days and add days to the school calendar.[73]

“We achieved all of this because we gave [the union] three years of potentially unenforceable union security language,” Lewis told Michigan Capitol Confidential.[74]

The largest district identified in this category is Chippewa Valley, which employs more than 900 teachers and enrolls about 16,500 students. According to Chippewa Valley’s contract, extended by the board in March 2013 with a letter of understanding, if a teacher does not pay dues or fees, “[the union] may request that the teacher’s services be terminated.”[75]

However, the tentative agreement to extend this language did not take effect until July 1, 2013.[76] Interestingly, Chippewa Valley also agreed to a separate letter of understanding regarding union dues that did take effect in March. These mulitple letters of understanding could be categorized as separate agency fees agreements, but appear here because the letter of understanding regarding the entire contract, including agency fees, took effect at a later date.

East China is a more clear-cut case. The district ratified its collective bargaining agreement in March 2013, before Public Act 349 went into effect.[77] However, the district’s collective bargaining agreement did not take effect until Aug. 26, 2013.[78]

Graphic 5: Agreements Containing Illegal Language That Became Effective After March 28, 2013

District

Effective Date

Language

Cheboygan

9/1/2013

“[The union] shall certify to the [district] ... the amount of annual membership dues and/or representation service fees required of [union members] and/or non-member fee-payers.”[79]

Chippewa Valley

7/1/2013

“In the event a teacher ... does not join the Association or tender their service fees to the Association, the Association may request that the teacher’s services be terminated.”[80]

Clintondale

9/1/2013

“[T]he failure of any teacher to [pay dues or fees to the union] is just and reasonable cause for discharge from employment.”[81]

East China

8/26/2013

“As a condition of continued employment, all teachers shall ... pay to the Association membership dues ... or pay to the Association a service fee.”[82]

Grosse Ile

8/15/2013

“Each bargaining unit member shall, as a condition of employment ... join the Association/Union, or pay a Service Fee to the Association.”[83]

Litchfield

7/1/2013

“[A]ny teacher who is not a member of the Association ... shall, as a condition of employment, pay a Service Fee established by the Association.”[84]

Marlette

7/1/2013

“The refusal of such teacher to pay such sum equivalent to the dues and assessments is recognized by the parties as reasonable and just cause for termination of employment.”[85]

Merrill

7/1/2013

“Each bargaining unit member shall, as a condition of employment ... join the Association, or pay a service fee to the union.”[86] (Emphasis in the original.)

New Buffalo

8/1/2013

“[E]ach teacher who is not a member of the Association ... shall as a condition of employment pay a service fee.”[87]

Northview

9/1/2013

“Each teacher ... shall, as a condition of employment, either become a member of the Association or pay to the Association a representation fee.”[88]

Pinckney

7/1/2013

“Each Association bargaining unit member shall, as a condition of employment ... either join the Association and remit membership dues or pay a service fee to the Association.”[89]

St. Louis[*]

7/1/2013

“Each bargaining unit member shall, as a condition of employment ... join the Association, or pay a service fee to the union.”[90]

Tahquamenon[†]

7/1/2013

“Each bargaining unit member shall as a condition of employment … join the Association or pay a service fee.”[91]

Tri County

7/1/2013

“Any teacher who is not a member of the Association ... shall, as a condition of employment, pay as a Representation Benefit Fee to the Association.”[92]

Wyoming

8/15/2013

“Any unit employee who is not a member of the Association ... shall pay as a fee to the Association an amount determined by the Association.”[93]


[*] St. Louis may have ratified this contract after March 28, 2013, but board meeting minutes are not specific.

[†] Tahquamenon may have ratified this contract after March 28, 2013, but board meeting minutes are not specific.