|Michigan Union Still Using Forceful Membership Tactics|
|posted by: Alana | December 02, 2015, 10:31 AM|
When Michigan officially became a Right-to-Work state in December of 2012, the union resorted to bully-tactics to keep teachers in the fold. Three years later, teachers are still facing union backlash when exercising their rights.
In fact just this past week, computer science teacher Ron Conwell of Clarkston, Michigan filed a complaint with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission against the district and the Clarkston chapter of the NEA.
Cromwell is said to have joined the union in 2001 and cancelled his membership in August, but was notified by mail that he was still obligated to an “agency fee” in order to maintain employment.
Once again, teachers in Michigan have no other recourse but to explore legal pursuits to combat these unfair practices. In addition, leaders in Michigan are proposing additional legislation to increase union transparency. The following two bills are being proposed as follows:
Senate Bill 279 would “prohibit public school districts and unions from adopting ‘release time’ arrangements in which a school employee who goes to work full time for a teachers union remains an employee of the district for purposes of collecting a government pension.” This came to light as a result of Michigan Capitol Confidential breaking several stories about the past three Michigan Education Association presidents entering special deals where they worked for a private union but continued to be officially “employed” and paid by school districts. This scheme allowed them to count their time and earnings with the MEA as credits toward their taxpayer-funded pension, artificially boosting their eventual payout compared to what it would have been based strictly on their time and pay actually working as public school employees.
Senate Bill 280 would “ban government employee union contracts that pay employees who are union officials for the time they spend on the job conducting union business (which they call ‘release time’).” Another Michigan Capitol Confidential investigation showed that public school districts are spending millions every year on local union officials who are released from their teaching duties in order to work on a full- or part-time basis for their respective union. Taxpayers pay for the costs of their salaries and benefits as well as those of the teacher who must replace these union officials and actually work in the classroom.
Rather than looking inward to find ways to better serve members as a means of retaining them, the unions often resort to forceful membership maneuvers that involved anything from sending bill collectors after teachers to trapping teachers into membership by way of a short opt-out window.
For these very reasons, in a move that took the state teachers union by storm, members who were fed up with such deceptive practices despite Right-to-Work protections took the matter to court once more - and in September of 2014, these same teachers came out the victors after Michigan Administrative Law Judge Julia C. Stern found the union guilty of unfair labor practices and mandated that public employees be allowed to resign from membership at any time.
As a result, the Michigan chapter of NEA lost 16% of active member. For more information on AAE’s stance on force unionism and your legal rights regarding union membership, visit www.aaeteachers.org/yourrights.