MEA’s ‘August Window’ ruled Illegal; union must change bylaws and accept resignations

‘Other government unions should take heed...’

Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015

Contact: Anne Schieber 989-430-6131

LANSING — After a two-year battle, four Saginaw teachers took an important step toward gaining their freedom from the Michigan Education Association. The Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) unanimously agreed this morning that the MEA violated the Public Employment Relations Act (PERA) and committed an unfair labor practice by enforcing the so-called “August Window.”

The teachers involved in the case are Jason LaPorte, Susan Romska, Kathy Eady-Miskiewicz and Matthew Knapp. In October 2013, the teachers charged the union with threatening to turn them over to a collections agency after the teachers informed the union they wanted to opt out. The MEA did not inform these teachers of its restrictive “August Window” resignation period and told the teachers they had to pay up and wait until the following year to resign.

Undeterred, the teachers contacted the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation for help, which led to the three-member MERC panel agreeing to issue a forthcoming 22-page decision in favor of these teachers’ right to resign.

“The MEA should stop trying to ruin teachers’ credit and should stop collections immediately on those who do not want to be part of the MEA,” said Patrick Wright, director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation. “These teachers simply want to decide for themselves which organizations they want to be a part of and which ones they want to support.”

“The MEA is not alone in having these windows, but to date, no judge or commissioner at MERC believes that a resignation window can trump right to work. Other government unions should take heed and not attempt to enforce arbitrary resignation periods.”

The full 22-page decision will likely be issued next week. The MEA is expected to appeal.

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