Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (August 18, 2005) – A Michigan Court of Appeals agreed with arguments made by lawyers for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation that imposing monopoly collective bargaining on Brother Rice High School, a private Catholic school, would entangle labor laws with the religious freedoms of the teachers and the school itself. Three judges issued a joint “per curiam” opinion this week overturning a precedent-setting Michigan Employment Relations Commission’s (MERC) ruling that Catholic schools somehow fall under Michigan’s compulsory collective bargaining laws. If the MERC had not been overturned, union officials were expected to forcibly unionize numerous other religious institutions. The dismissal of the claim by the Michigan Educators Association (MEA) is a victory for both religious independence and teacher freedom. The MEA was targeting teachers at the Brother Rice High School for forced unionization. The Foundation filed an amicus curiae brief for the Acton Institute, a religious liberty public policy group, in support of Brother Rice. “It would be unconscionable to force religious schools to bargain with union officials who have an agenda that runs afoul of the teachings of the Catholic Church,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “At the same time, teachers should not be forced to accept the representation of union officials whose agenda they may believe to be morally reprehensible.” The Foundation brief demonstrated that Catholic Church doctrine and the ideology of the MEA union are incompatible, and that Michigan state law was not written in a way to include Brother Rice in the jurisdiction of union representation and state regulation. Ultimately the appeals court agreed that Michigan state law should be interpreted so that parochial schools are not placed under the jurisdiction of state labor laws. Foundation attorneys argued that giving MERC oversight of collective bargaining agreements could lead to the MEA using collective bargaining to highjack the religious teaching process and allow the MEA’s radical political agenda to influence the religious instruction given by Brother Rice teachers. Additionally, because hiring practices at the school necessarily involve religious beliefs, an MEA victory would have meant that the state would be forced to pass judgment upon church doctrine to determine whether the school’s refusal to bargain over certain terms of employment is legitimately based on religious belief.