Teachers Contract Contains Questionable Forced Unionization Clause

Plymouth-Canton union wants teachers fired if they don't join union, which is illegal under state's RTW law

Despite signing a contract nearly six months after the state's right-to-work law became effective, the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools has language in its teachers union contract that says teachers have to be fired if they don't join the union.

Michigan's right-to-work law became effective March 28, 2013. Any contracts signed after that date cannot require that employees pay dues or fees or belong to a union as a condition of employment. 

The Plymouth-Canton union contract was "sealed" Sept. 12, 2013. The district's teachers are members of the Plymouth-Canton Education Association, a division of the Michigan Education Association.

Plymouth-Canton is one of several school districts that may be violating state law involving right-to-work.

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Patrick Wright, vice president of legal affairs for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said the Plymouth-Canton union contract is a violation of state law, according to the documents the district provided online.

"When you rewrite the contract and it takes effect after right to work, right-to-work kicks in," Wright said.

Gary Collins, the attorney whose firm represents Plymouth-Canton Community Schools, said in a letter the contract was not in violation of the right-to-work law. Collins said the school board ratified the contract March 12, 2013, before right-to-work became effective. Collins said there were numerous concessions that were agreed to in the contract that took effect on March 14, 2013, and that is when he said both parties ratified the contract.

He did not immediately respond to a question asking to explain the the significance of the contract being "sealed" on Sept. 12, 2013.

School Board President Judy Mardigian, School Board Vice President Adrienne Davis and School Board Treasurer Mark Horvath also didn't respond to a request for comment.

Kimberley Crouch is the secretary of the school board. Sheila Paton, Mike Maloney and John Barrett serve as trustees on the school board.

In an email, Superintendent Michael Meissen said the contract was effective Aug. 16, 2012, and ratified by the board March 12, 2013.

"I appreciate your inquiry and assure you that the CBA fully complies with the law," Meissen said.

School district officials also did not respond as to why the contract online states the deal was sealed Sept. 12, 2013.

(Editor's note: Plymouth-Canton school district officials attempted to respond before deadline but their email was sent to a wrong address. Their response was resent after the story was published online. The comments from Superintendent Meissen have been added above. The story has subsequently been changed again to add comments from an attorney representing the district. The headline on the story also has been changed to reflect new information that has been received since the original posting.)


See also:

Despite Shortage Of Bus Drivers, Union Wants Worker Fired For Not Paying Dues

Union Surrenders Member Benefits To Keep Unenforceable Clause In Contract

145 Districts Have Contracts That Dodge Right-to-Work Law

Lawsuit Filed To Protect Teachers' Rights

Taylor Teachers Oppose 'Insecurity Clause' Following Right-to-Work

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