Tuesday, June 9, 2015
Contact: Dan Armstrong, 989-698-1917
LANSING — This morning the Michigan Employment Relations Commission unanimously announced its intention to allow public school employees to leave the union at any time despite the Michigan Education Association’s restrictive “August Window.”
MERC also said that since the “August Window” is illegal, the MEA should not file future collections proceedings on the employees the union is going after for payment.
The case involves four Saginaw teachers who tried to get out of the union in September of 2013. The Saginaw Education Association did not inform the teachers that they should have opted out in August. The teachers contacted the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation for help. The MCLF filed unfair labor practice charges in October 2013 against the Saginaw Education Association and Michigan Education Association.
Susan Romska, a Saginaw geometry teacher and one of the charging parties said, “I believe that everybody should have the right to join an organization or to opt out whenever they feel like it.”
MERC agreed with Romska’s opinion and will produce its official order on the case likely in mid to late July.
“The Michigan Education Association has gone to extreme lengths to prevent teachers from leaving the union. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and now a unanimous MERC have all said the union was wrong to do so.” said Patrick Wright, vice president of legal affairs for the Mackinac Center and director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation. “The Commission essentially said that the MEA illegally chose power over principles, money over members and cash over colleagues. Despite this coming decision, we expect that the union will continue its hostility towards teachers that resigned outside of August.”
The MEA will likely appeal the case. Because of the union’s expected obstinacy, teachers and other public school employees represented by the MEA who desire to opt out may still want to send the MEA an opt-out letter in August to avoid any future legal difficulties.
MEA President Steve Cook previously said he will use “any legal means” to fight against teachers who want to leave the union.
After the MERC decision issues, the next step would likely be an appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals.