100,000 Public School Employees Near Deadline to Save $200 Each

For Immediate Release

MEA set to increase automatic deductions from teachers’ paychecks

MIDLAND – More than 100,000 Michigan teachers and public school personnel are about to take home slightly smaller paychecks for the next two decades unless they opt out of a new union fund drive by June 1.

The Michigan Education Association will begin a 20-year program of deducting an additional ten dollars per year from each of its members’ paychecks to raise an estimated $1.1 million per year. A flyer promoting "all inclusive membership" says the money would bolster MEA’s political clout by automatically adding members to the union’s retiree organization.

The automatic deductions from MEA members’ paychecks begin in September, but members have only until June 1 to opt out entirely, or pay the union $150 up front to avoid the 20 years of deductions.

To opt out of paying the extra fees, MEA members must "write an individual letter" to their local membership chair by the June 1 deadline, according to a union memo.

MEA member and special education teacher Linda Taylor objects to the new fundraising program. She said, "The union already takes too much of our money then spends it on projects and political campaigns that a large percentage of the membership do not even support."

Forty-eight percent of MEA members do not identify themselves as Democrats, but MEA’s political action funds are traditionally spent in favor of Democratic Party candidates. Nearly one-third of the union’s active members are not employed as teachers, but rather as support staff including bus drivers, custodians, and cafeteria workers.

Facing a $10 million budget shortfall last year, the MEA increased its members’ compulsory yearly dues by the maximum amount allowed by its bylaws, to $569.30.

Taylor said, "The union just raised our dues by the maximum amount. Now they are pushing, almost tricking us, into sacrificing another $150-$200 on top of that."

The MEA has levied special fees on its members in the past. In 1994 the union undertook an "image building campaign" and assessed each member $90 over three years to pay for it.

Teachers and others may avoid special assessments by resigning from the union and receiving a dues refund, although those who resign continue to pay the union a reduced amount. MEA expects to collect more than $180,000 from such school employees in the next school year.

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