MEA officials forced to relinquish claims for back dues after resignations, Teamsters forced to refund dues seized in violation of state law
Michigan (September 19, 2018) – In three separate legal victories, Michigan workers succeeded in defending their rights under Michigan’s Right to Work laws. All three workers resigned their union membership and sought to end any union dues payments, only to have union officials continue seizing dues.
Two of the cases involved the Michigan Education Association (MEA). After Michigan’s Right to Work law covering government employees went into effect, school district employees Ryan Woodward and Susan Junak each submitted union membership resignations and dues authorization revocations to the MEA union, only to have their revocations blocked and MEA officials threaten to collect the dues with lawsuits.
Mr. Woodward informed union officials of his resignation both verbally and twice via e-mail. Despite his repeated notifications, the MEA filed a collection lawsuit against him in Michigan state District Court in an attempt to collect more than $800 in dues for the period after his resignation. In a similar situation, Ms. Junak resigned her MEA membership by way of certified mail, but MEA officials disregarded the notice and sent her a collection notice for over $600 in dues. In both instances, MEA officials alleged that the back dues were a debt owed to the union, which could then be used to damage the workers’ credit ratings.
Both settlements required the MEA to officially recognize the resignations and end attempts to collect the dues from the period following the resignations. Additionally, the settlement requires the MEA to take proactive steps to bear the costs of restoring the credit of both school employees, because the unauthorized dues collection attempts may have improperly damaged both of their credit scores.
The third case concerns a similar situation between Gordon Alger and Teamsters Local 214. Alger, a building maintenance worker, filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) when the Teamsters union continued to deduct dues from his paycheck after he revoked his deduction authorization. The settlement requires the Teamsters officials to refund $300.
Michigan is a Right to Work state, which protects workers’ freedom to join a union and outlaws forced dues and fees as a condition of employment. All three settlements were made possible by the state’s Right to Work protections.
“These three cases show the importance of Right to Work protections in ensuring that worker rights are not abused by union officials,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Clearly, Big Labor bosses will reject or deliberately ignore resignations of their members just to keep extracting every penny of dues from workers. Thanks to Michigan’s Right to Work law, these workers are able to stand up to greedy union bosses and enforce their legal rights.”
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, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.