News Story

Detroit Teachers Union Gives Members Freedom MEA Doesn’t

DFT allows union employees to resign whenever they want

Unlike the Michigan Education Association, the Detroit Federation of Teachers allows its members to become fee payers at any time.

Teachers in the Detroit Federation of Teachers cannot totally leave the union because their contract is in effect until 2016. But they can become fee payers by simply sending a letter to the union at any time during the year.

The MEA, by contrast, restricts its members from becoming fee payers or leaving the union as part of the state's right-to-work law to a one-month only window.

As part of the state's right-to-work law, teachers can completely opt out of paying money to their unions when their current contract expires. 

The Detroit Federation of Teachers is part of the American Federation of Teachers. The DFT union constitution reads: "A member who is in the bargaining union may resign from Union membership by submitting a letter of resignation and authorizing deduction of agency shop fees by the Board of Education. A member not in the bargaining union may submit a letter of resignation only."

Patrick Wright, director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, said DFT union members have better options than their counterparts in the MEA.

"They (the DFT) are respectful enough of their members' right to allow them to resign at any time," Wright said.

However, that could change in a few years. Detroit Federation of Teachers AFT Local 231 President Keith Johnson said he would encourage local unions to include a restrictive window similar to what the MEA does when the DFT contract expires in 2016.

He said it may be limited to the time when members have open enrollment for health insurance.

Seven MEA teachers from around the state have filed complaints with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission against their local unions and the MEA arguing that they should be able to leave outside of the August window.

The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation is representing the MEA teachers in their unfair labor practice cases, and also is considering a lawsuit involving an eighth educator who wants to resign from the union outside of the August window and change her status to that of a fee payer.


See also:

Teachers Sue MEA To Escape Union

Teacher Suing Union Heard Lots About How To Pay Dues, Nothing About Opting Out of the MEA

Union Threatens Hall of Fame Coach With Legal Action For Not Paying Dues

CapCon Right-to-Work Coverage

Know Your Rights: MI Worker Freedom