Just over a year ago the state of Michigan passed a right-to-work law ruling that the state’s teachers cannot be forced by law to belong to a union as they had been before. Since then the state teachers union has claimed that it lost only a few members. Still the union was also forced to admit that 8,000 teachers have stopped paying dues.
In October of last year, the Michigan Education Association (MEA) made the claim that “99 percent” of its members remained happily unionized despite the state’s ten-month-old worker freedom law.
It is true that the union has allowed some teachers to leave without opposition as long as they had filed their separation papers last year in August, the one month during the year that the union claims teachers are “allowed” to leave. State law does not sanction this. It is only a union policy.
Regardless that it is not an enforceable law, the union threatened to send teachers who stopped paying dues to collection agencies. Letters were also sent to all union members that they must hand over bank and credit card account numbers so that the union can automatically deduct dues from their accounts.
As a result, the Mackinac Center, a free market think tank in Michigan, filed a lawsuit against the MEA for attempting to force teachers to stay in the union and to continue to pay dues against their will.
Shortly after the lawsuit was filed the union informed the teachers named in the lawsuit that they were no longer members and back dues were no longer being sought.
As noted, the MEA has claimed that few teachers have left the union. MEA officials say that only around 1,500 teachers have quit the union since the right-to-work law passed in 2012.
Despite that sunny claim, the union’s executive director, Gretchen Dziadosz, recently admitted that 8,000 teachers are in arrears with their dues.
The new state law maintains that union dues are no longer to be automatically deducted from teachers’ paychecks by the State of Michigan. That means teachers are supposed to pay their dues on their own.