MEA set to increase automatic deductions from teachers’ paychecks
MIDLAND – More than 100,000 Michigan teachers and public
school personnel are about to take home slightly smaller paychecks for the next
two decades unless they opt out of a new union fund drive by June 1.
The Michigan Education Association will begin a 20-year
program of deducting an additional ten dollars per year from each of its
members’ paychecks to raise an estimated $1.1 million per year. A
flyer promoting "all inclusive membership" says the money would bolster
MEA’s political clout by automatically adding members to the union’s retiree
The automatic deductions from MEA members’ paychecks begin
in September, but members have only until June 1 to opt out entirely, or pay the
union $150 up front to avoid the 20 years of deductions.
To opt out of paying the extra fees, MEA members must
"write an individual letter" to their local membership chair by the June 1
deadline, according to a
MEA member and special
education teacher Linda Taylor objects to the new fundraising program. She
said, "The union already takes too much of our money then spends it on projects
and political campaigns that a large percentage of the membership do not even
Forty-eight percent of MEA
members do not identify themselves as Democrats, but MEA’s political action
funds are traditionally spent in favor of Democratic Party candidates. Nearly
one-third of the union’s active members are not employed as teachers, but rather
as support staff including bus drivers, custodians, and cafeteria workers.
Facing a $10 million budget
shortfall last year, the MEA
increased its members’ compulsory yearly dues by the maximum amount allowed
by its bylaws, to $569.30.
Taylor said, "The union
just raised our dues by the maximum amount. Now they are pushing, almost
tricking us, into sacrificing another $150-$200 on top of that."
The MEA has levied special
fees on its members in the past. In 1994 the union undertook an
"image building campaign" and assessed each member $90 over three years to
pay for it.
Teachers and others may
avoid special assessments by resigning from the union and receiving a dues
refund, although those who resign continue to pay the union a reduced amount.
MEA expects to collect more than $180,000 from such school employees in the next
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