Although Michigan’s right-to-work legislation took effect in March of this year, teachers have raised concerns that unions are using strong-arm tactics that prohibit them from exercising their rights under the law. Namely, numerous teachers who have tried to resign and stop paying dues to their local Michigan Education Association have been blocked from doing so.
To address these teachers’ concerns, the Michigan Senate Compliance and Accountability Committee was created to investigate if such abuses are occurring. The first hearing will take place on November 13, where several teachers will testify to the abuses of the MEA.
Under Michigan’s Freedom to Work Act, or right-to-work law, forcing employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment is illegal.
However, MEA officials argue that its internal bylaws, which confine members from leaving the union to the month of August, supersede the right-to-work law.
State Senator Jack Brandenburg, a member of the new committee, rejects the MEA’s rationalization and believes the “law permits membership withdrawals 365 days a year.”
In addition, even before the state Senate became involved in the MEA misconduct, the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation filed unfair labor practice charges against the MEA on behalf of eight public school teachers in October.
The Mackinac Center is representing teachers who have accused the MEA of various forms of intimidation and harassment. Specifically, one teacher and former principal, Susan Bank, said:
“I have been dedicated to the education of Michigan students for 39 years,” Bank said. “During that time, I have also been a dues paying member of the Michigan Education Association. After passage of the Freedom to Work legislation last December, I made the decision to sever my relationship with the union and discontinue paying dues. Since then, I have been subjected to intimidation, bullying and even threats to ruin my credit rating.