Judge Rules She Lacks Jurisdiction to Decide Lawsuit Filed by Three Taylor Teachers Against Union and School District Over Forced Dues Extension

Teachers’ options include appellate court and/or Michigan Employment Relations Commission

Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Ted O’Neil
Media Relations Manager

MIDLAND — A Wayne County Circuit Court judge today ruled that she lacked jurisdiction to decide the legality of a 10-year union security clause agreed to by the Taylor Federation of Teachers-Local 1085 and the Taylor School District that forces teachers to pay union dues through 2023 — a full six years beyond their current contract — and allows the union to have them fired for refusing to pay. Judge Daphne Means Curtis said she believes the case should be decided by the Michigan Employment Relations Commission.

“The judge didn’t rule on the merits of the case, she only said she didn’t think circuit court was the proper venue,” said Derk Wilcox, senior attorney with the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation. “We are going to review our legal options, which could include an appeal, filing at MERC, or both.”

The MCLF in February filed suit on behalf of Angela Steffke, Rebecca Metz and Nancy Rhatigan, all of whom have taught in Taylor for several years and who objected to the forced dues extension. A new four-year contract was ratified in early February, along with the separate 10-year forced dues clause. Such clauses are generally part of an overall contract, rather than a stand-alone agreement.

“This is really a union insecurity clause because rather than proving its worth to members, the union is forcing all teachers to continue paying dues or agency fees through 2023,” Wilcox said at the time the lawsuit was filed.

Steffke, a special education teacher, said she was disappointed by the judge’s decision.

“It’s disappointing, but we know the 10-year dues requirement is wrong and we’ll continue fighting,” she said.

The MCLF asked the court to rule that the insecurity clause is invalid and void, or in the alternative that the clause only be found valid if it lasts for the same length of time as the four-year collective bargaining agreement.

The Taylor Federation of Teachers in January received an “award” from AFT-Michigan for causing 7,500 students to miss school on Dec. 11, 2012, as the district was forced to close during a teacher “sick-out” that was used to protest right-to-work legislation at the Capitol.


For more information on this case, please see www.mackinac.org/18331.