News Release

Michigan Teachers Union Hit with Charges for Demanding Forced Union Fees, Violating Right to Work Law

National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation assists public school teachers after Ann Arbor Education Association union officials illegally demanded ‘mandatory’ union fees

Ann Arbor, Michigan (February 22, 2016) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, public school teachers in Ann Arbor, Michigan have filed unfair labor practice charges with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) against the Ann Arbor Education Association (AAEA). The charges allege that the AAEA violated Michigan’s public sector Right to Work law when union officials demanded compulsory union fees.

Jeffrey Finnan has worked at Skyline High School since August 2010, and Cory Merante has worked at Pittsfield Elementary since August 2006. Both schools are part of the Ann Arbor Public Schools District which has (and had at the time both plaintiffs were hired) a monopoly bargaining agreement with the Ann Arbor Education Association.

Finnan and Merante joined AAEA when they were hired. Because Michigan lacked a Right to Work law at the time, they were required to join AAEA or pay an “agency” fee nearly equal to full union dues as a condition of employment. In August 2014, Finnan resigned his union membership, and Merante resigned his membership in August 2015.

In June 2014, the AAEA and school district entered into a new contract that modified teachers’ compensation packages and renewed the forced dues clause in the previous contract, despite the fact that Michigan’s Right to Work law protects teachers from forced-dues schemes that are renewed, extended, or created after the law’s effective date of March 28, 2013. Thus, the Right to Work law’s prohibition on forced dues applied to the 2014 contract.

Throughout the summer of 2015, Finnan received monthly invoices from union officials demanding he pay installments for the union fee, despite the fact that Finnan had resigned union membership and could no longer be forced to pay any union dues or fees.

In August 2015, the AAEA and school district again entered into an agreement that contained a forced-dues clause in violation of the Right to Work law. On December 18, 2015 both Finnan and Merante received letters from the Michigan Education Association on behalf of AAEA which stated that they were required to either join AAEA or pay an “agency” fee, and demanded over $500 in fees.

The MERC will now investigate both charges.

“Union bosses are desperate to maintain their coffers, so it appears they are willing to blatantly violate Michigan’s Right to Work law,” said Mark Mix, president of the NRTW Foundation. “These sorts of schemes must not continue, because no teacher, nor any worker, should be forced to pay union dues or fees just to get or keep a job.”

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.

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