Union Attempt to Force Teacher to Pay Fees Deemed Illegal Under Right-to-Work

Mackinac Center challenges attempt to limit worker freedom

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Patrick Wright
Vice President for Legal Affairs

MIDLAND – An Ann Arbor teacher has won an unfair labor case after a unanimous decision made by the Michigan Employment Relations Committee.

In May 2016, Ronald Robinson, represented by the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, filed the unfair labor charge against the Michigan Education Association.

Robinson, a science teacher at Pioneer High School, challenged the union and its local affiliate, the Ann Arbor Education Association, for refusing to acknowledge his freedom to resign completely from the union under Michigan’s right-to-work law. The union demanded he continue to pay “agency fees,” despite having received written notification during the prescribed time period that Robinson wished to opt out.

Union lawyers argued that Robinson still owed agency fees because the district had signed a memorandum of understanding with the AAEA right before Michigan’s right-to-work law went into effect in March 2013. The memorandum modified the teachers’ union contract and required employees to pay agency fees until July 2016.

Since that time, the union renegotiated the contract in 2014 and in 2015, effectively terminating the terms of the memorandum. MERC found that the memorandum did not create a duty to pay agency fees and made the union’s attempt to demand payment from Robinson for the 2015-2016 school year illegal.

“This is a step to provide greater freedom for public employees,” said Patrick Wright, director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation. “The unions have engaged in many attempts to limit worker freedom and we have done our best to challenge them all. Right-to-work passed five years ago and we hope we are rapidly approaching the time where all Michigan public employees will be able to exercise their rights under it without union interference.”

For more information on this case, click here.

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