MERC to Find August Window Illegal

Unlike the Eagles’ “Hotel California,” where you can check out any time you want but you can never leave, many of Michigan’s public sector unions will reluctantly allow their members to exit. But the unions make that difficult by erecting needless resignation windows. The Michigan Education Association limits resignations to the month of August and when right-to-work passed it chose not to inform any of its members of this until the September after the law went into effect. Other unions have a roving resignation date that is based on a short annual time period related to the employee’s hire date. The Michigan Employment Relations Commission recently indicated that due to litigation brought by the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation it will likely put an end to the unions’ chicanery.

On behalf of some Saginaw Public School District teachers, the foundation filed an action at the commission challenging the MEA’s resignation window. Based on Michigan’s new right-to-work law, an administrative law judge held the window was illegal and that public employees should be able to resign at any time. But, the judge also indicated that the unions could draft a membership agreement that traps members for most of the year.

In June, the MERC indicated that it was working on an official decision that would allow any-time resignations and that would prevent the unions’ lawyers from drafting any document that would overcome this statutory right to resign. We hope that this will provide some relief for the thousands of MEA members who had stopped paying dues after right-to-work passed, only to find out about the window after it closed for another year. Many of these people have been sent to collections.

Borrowing from another Eagles’ song, “Already Gone,” Michigan’s public sector employees will likely be able to sing their “victory song” in the next couple of months when MERC formally issues its decision.