BEA President Unsure What Her Contract Says

Center attorney explains it

Patrick Wright, vice president for legal affairs, explained in the Livingston Daily Press & Argus why the president of the Brighton Education Association is wrong about a lawsuit filed by the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation against the union on behalf of a Brighton High School teacher.

The MCLF filed the suit Wednesday on behalf of Adam Neuman against the BEA and the Brighton Area Schools Board of Education for violating his right-to-work freedoms. A contract between the union and district says all members of the bargaining unit, via payroll deduction, must pay for the union’s release time (time allotted union officials to conduct union business during work hours). Michigan’s right-to-work statute, however, says anyone who has opted out of a union is under no obligation to financially support it.

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Ellen Lafferty, BEA president, told the Livingston Daily that she thinks only members of the union must pay for the release time.

“Since he is not a member of the association due to him opting out in August, this language does not pertain to him,” she said.

State law, however, forces even those who opt out of a union to remain a member of the bargaining unit.

Wright said Lafferty’s claim is “irrelevant” based on what the contract says. Any payroll deduction by the district on the union’s behalf would also be illegal under Public Act 53 of 2012, including any deduction from the paychecks of those still in the union.

Wright also told the newspaper that the union and district need to change the language in the contract and if “it’s done to our satisfaction, this lawsuit will probably go away fairly fast.”