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NEFW Spotlight: Michigan Union Trap Teachers
posted by: Alana | August 12, 2014, 10:37 PM   

In honor of our second annual National Employee Freedom Week –a nationwide campaign offering an unparalleled focus on the freedoms union employees have to opt out of union membership– we are sharing stories of teachers who have exercised their rights and have chosen the organization that best meets their needs.

In December of 2012, Michigan became the 24th Right-to-Work state in the nation. But the Michigan teachers unions were all but accepting of those who wished to exercise such rights.

Take veteran teacher Rob Wiersema for example.

Upon learning of his new found freedom to leave the union, Wiersema took active measures to cancel his membership with the MEA. He asked his local reps what he needed to do to get out. He sent letters and emails asking how to leave. And he even sent a “quit letter” in June. But come July, he found charges on his credit card. After disputing these charges, the MEA took immediate action and threatened to send his unpaid bill to collections, where his credit would ultimately be damaged if his dues were not paid.

As it turns out, Wiersema had to wait another month for the August opt-out period before he could exercise his right to leave the union, and as a result was forced to pay July dues anyway.

Despite this fact, Wiersema was actually one of the lucky ones.

Teachers in Michigan have choices. But many teachers miss the August window because unions don’t advertise the short drop out period until after the deadline! That’s why National Employee Freedom Week aims to educate teachers like Wiersema of their options before it’s too late.

If you or someone you know is a Michigan teacher, don't forget to spread the word about the short August opt-out period. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has created a website, in an effort to guide teachers through the process of dropping MEA membership.

Free to make his own choices, Wiersema joined AAE where he is very happy with the full package of benefits he receives at a fraction of the cost of his union dues.

And Wiersema isn’t alone.

Teachers know they need to be protected by professional educator liability insurance and legal services. Non-partisan alternatives like AAE offer the protection teachers needs without compromising their values…or their wallets.

The fact is many teachers don’t feel serviced by the union. And no educator should feel compelled to join a union for job protection nor should they be forced to join as a condition of employment. Teachers deserve the freedom to choose membership in any association they wish.

Featuring a diverse and nonpartisan coalition of state-based and national organizations, National Employee Freedom Week empowers employees with information to make the decision about union membership that's best for them, including identifying non-union alternatives that better advance their profession. Check out the National Employee Freedom Week's website to learn about union membership in your state and how you can opt out. Join the movement and share your story!

Do you have a story to share? Tell us in the comments below!
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Opting out but fearful there will be retaliations...
written by Cheryl, Michigan, August 16, 2014

For the last nine years I have worked in Michigan and have been forced to pay union dues as part of employment until this year when MI became a "Right to Work" state. Since my contract is up as of this year and the union has never stood up for me (ex. loss of employment due to the union members negligence, payment for a chair broken by a violent student (NEA offers this supposedly), fear of a student for my parapro, students and myself, etc.) in many situations I requested they assist me. Since I am leaving the union (and know I am one of few) I am fearful that I will be made an example to other members what happens to those who leave so that others will not follow my lead. I also am fearful that the union members will find a way to make my daily life miserable; whatever comes my way I will deal with it. I've been pondering this act for months now and after receiving a billing statement from MEA that stated it was "detailed" but it wasn't and I could not get a detailed statement, I could do nothing more than to "opt-out" and join AAE. I pray that the union members are professional enough to allow me my constitutional right to make choices for myself.

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