Mackinac Center Legal Foundation Appeals Right-To-Work Case Involving Novi Special Education Teacher

‘The MEA has a duty of fair representation, yet it intentionally did not inform teachers of their rights.’

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Dan Armstrong
Director of Marketing and Communications

MIDLAND — The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation filed an appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals in the case of Susan Bank, a 40 year educator, who wanted to opt out of the Michigan Education Association in 2013, but was told she missed the “August Window” period.
Bank says she was not impressed with the union representation she had received with the MEA and wanted to exercise her right-to-work freedom. However, when she informed the MEA of her decision, the union told her that she missed the “August Window” and that she was too late. “I have paid over $10,000 in the last 11 years to the union, and I felt that they should have informed me,” said Bank.
Bank was able to leave the union in August 2014, but her suit challenges whether the window itself is legal and whether the MEA had a duty to inform her of it before September 2013. The MEA has around 112,000 active members, and the legality of its resignation policy as various school districts transition to right-to-work remains an active controversy. Finally, the suit challenges whether the form newly hired employees signed sufficiently informed them about the union bylaws and dues structure.
“The MEA has a duty of fair representation, yet it intentionally did not inform teachers of their rights,” said Patrick Wright, vice president of legal affairs for the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation. “Further, the MEA should not be able to place unnecessary procedural hurdles in front of public employees who are attempting to exercise their legal rights.”
The MCLF filed the original case in Oakland County Circuit Court in February 2014. Since then, the court has said it does not have jurisdiction over the "new-employee right-to-resign" claim and the "duty-to-inform" claim, which it wanted to send to the Michigan Employment Relations Commission. The Circuit Court dismissed the claim related to the content of the new-employee form.
The MCLF expects oral argument to occur on this matter later this year.