Teacher Sues Union Over Right-to-Work

A Michigan Education Association affiliate is violating state law

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Derk Wilcox
Senior Attorney
(989) 698-1920

MIDLAND — The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation launched a lawsuit today on behalf of a public school teacher whose right-to-work freedoms are being violated by his local union.

Joshua Khon teaches fine arts at Armada Middle School and Armada High School and has been an educator for 19 years. In 2012, he grew frustrated with the way the Armada Education Association, the local MEA affiliate, was using his dues money. He did not agree with all the union’s political stances and chose to resign his union membership.

Before Michigan had a right-to-work law, teachers who opted out of being union members still had to pay an “agency fee” to unions. In Khon’s case, this was about 75 percent of full dues — an amount his local union determined.

Michigan’s right-to-work law passed Dec. 11, 2012, and went into effect on March 28, 2013. As a result, unions can no longer force employees to pay agency fees. But the Armada Education Association claims Khon must continue to pay his until 2023 because of a special deal called a “security agreement” it made with the district’s school board in August 2013.

“This security agreement is invalid for several reasons,” said Derk Wilcox, senior attorney at the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation. “First, it was ratified after right-to-work went into effect. Second, Michigan courts have ruled that forcing these kinds of outrageous agreements on teachers is an unfair labor practice.”

The Mackinac Center recently won a similar case on behalf of three teachers from Taylor, whose union also tried to trap them into a 10-year security agreement it made with their school district. The courts ruled that the Taylor agreement was an unacceptable end-run around Michigan’s right-to-work law and invalidated it.

“Right-to-work passed almost five years ago to the day,” said Wilcox. “Workers should be allowed to exercise their rights without illegal interference from unions.”

The case has been filed at the Michigan Employment Relations Commission. For more information, visit https://www.mackinac.org/Khon.

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