Grand Rapids Teacher Files State Charges Against Union and School District for Right to Work Violations
Union and school officials collude to force school employees into dues-paying union ranks despite Right to Work law
Grand Rapids, MI (April 21, 2014) – A Grand Rapids-area special education teacher has filed state charges against a local union and the school district for violating school employees' rights under Michigan's Right to Work law.
With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Becky Lapham of Portland, Michigan, filed the state charges last week with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) in Detroit.
The 11-year Lincoln Developmental Center school teacher notified the Michigan Education Association (MEA) union that she was exercising her rights under the Foundation-won Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson case to refrain from full union dues payments and requesting a financial disclosure of how her forced union dues and fees are being spent.
MEA union officials refused to comply with Lapham's request, claiming that she would have to wait for a union-designated "window period" in August 2014 to refrain from full dues payments, and threatened to report her to a collections agency. Lapham points out that Michigan's Right to Work law protects her unequivocal right to refrain from union membership at any time. Analogously, federal labor law also protects workers' absolute right to refrain from union membership at any time without penalty.
Lapham also filed additional charges against the union and Grand Rapids Public Schools for entering into an agreement illegally amending and extending the forced unionism provisions in the monopoly bargaining agreement beyond the date allowed under Michigan's Right to Work law for public employees. That law specifies that contracts or amendments entered into after the law went into effect must respect workers' right to refrain from the payment of any union dues or fees.
"Across the state, union officials are pulling out all the stops to keep workers from exercising their rights under Michigan’s Right to Work law," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "Foundation staff attorneys are assisting workers throughout the state whose rights under Michigan’s Right to Work law are being denied by unscrupulous union officials seeking to circumvent the law."
In similar cases across Michigan, Foundation staff attorneys have already assisted 10 other public-sector workers who filed charges with the MERC and two private-sector workers who filed federal charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).