Michigan School Employees Can Officially Resign from Their Union at Any Time

Supreme Court rejects MEA’S ‘August window’ appeal

Friday, March 23, 2018

Patrick Wright
Vice President for Legal Affairs

LANSING – Michigan public school employees can officially resign from the Michigan Education Association at anytime. In a one-paragraph order with no dissent, the Michigan Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal related to the MEA’s attempt to reinstate its “August Window,” a union policy limiting when school employees could resign from the union.

This order leaves in place the unanimous 2017 Michigan Court of Appeals ruling and the unanimous 2015 Michigan Employment Relations Commission decision holding that the resignation limitation was illegal.

“The MEA’s efforts to limit school employees’ freedom is finally over,” said Patrick Wright, director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, which represented several teachers in the case. “Unfortunately, the MEA’s campaign has caused significant damage. Thousands of school employees have been sent to either a collections agency or court because of the MEA’s hardline tactics.”

From 2014 to 2016, the MEA received $241,977 from a collections agency according to the union’s federally required annual LM-2 filings.

In October 2013, Saginaw teachers Jason LaPorte, Susan Romska, Kathy Eady-Miskiewicz and Matthew Knapp charged the MEA with threatening to turn them over to a collection agency after they informed the union they wanted to opt out of membership. The MEA did not inform these teachers of its restrictive “August Window” resignation period and told the teachers they had to pay up and wait until the following year to resign. The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation has been representing them ever since, and the case was consolidated with other similar suits by the Court of Appeals.

As part of the remedies in that case, the MEA was required to post a notice in its December 2015 Voice magazine admitting it violated the law. According to its federal filings, since right-to-work passed in 2012, 25,519 people have left the MEA and its dues revenue has declined by $16.4 million.

The United States Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in Janus v. AFSCME, a case which may allow all government workers across the country the ability to exercise right-to-work. Wright noted that many national unions would likely look to Michigan as a case study and indicated that “the Mackinac Center will take the necessary steps to inform public employees of their opportunities and rights” following the ruling in Janus.

Building on its success of educating workers in Michigan about their rights, the Mackinac Center recently launched a national “My Pay My Say” campaign. This will educate and inform government workers about what the Supreme Court ruling could mean for them. Learn more at www.MyPayMySay.com.

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