Labor Board Says Teacher Union Committed an Unfair Labor Practice and Acted “arbitrarily, indifferent and reckless”

Michigan Employment Relations Commission orders Taylor School District and Taylor Federation of Teachers to stop coercing teachers to financially support union

For Immediate Release
Friday, Feb
. 13, 2015
Anne Schieber

MIDLAND — The Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) has decided that the Taylor Federation of Teachers and Taylor School District committed an unfair labor practice by approving a 10-year security agreement that keeps teachers from exercising their new freedoms under Michigan’s right-to-work law.

The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation represents three Taylor teachers who say the union worked against them by negotiating a 10-year union security clause that extends more than five years after its collective bargaining agreement expires.

Nancy Rhatigan, Rebecca Metz and Angela Steffke, with the help of the MCLF, legally challenged the school district and union in February 2013.

The union security clause forced teachers to keep paying the union until 2023 — a full six years beyond their current contract — and allowed the union to have teachers fired for refusing to pay.

“MERC got this decision right,” says Mackinac Center Legal Defense Senior Attorney Derk Wilcox. “The Commission carefully considered the matter and decided that clearly the 10-year union security agreement should not bind teachers.”

The decision from MERC also says the union and school district’s “action was intended to delay the application of [PA 349 the Right to Work law] for ten years beyond its legislatively mandated effective date. In so doing, [the union and district] have effectively compelled unwilling unit members, in violation of [section 9 of the Public Employment Relations Act], to financially support the Union for the next decade.”

The Commission went on to say the following about the union’s action: “Imposing a lengthy financial burden on bargaining unit members, in order to avoid the application of a state law for ten years, is arbitrary, indifferent and reckless.”

“Locking teachers into paying dues for 10 years is not an effective way to sell the value of the union or improve schools. It has worked against our clients and now the Commission says this practice is not legal,” Wilcox said.

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