By CHANTAL LOVELL
MIDLAND — The Michigan Education Association has provided notice that it violated Michigan’s right-to-work law by only allowing members to leave the union during the month of August. In the most recent issue of its official magazine, Voice, the union announced that members may now opt out at any time by email or postal mail.
“For the time being, MEA members may resign at any time,” said Patrick Wright, the director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation. “However, the MEA’s appeal will continue. So this is not a final resolution.”
In making this announcement, the MEA is following an order handed down by the Michigan Employment Relations Commission in September when it ruled that the union’s “August window” restriction was illegal.
“(T)he Michigan Employment Relations Commission ruled that the MEA’s August opt-out window violated the anti-union Michigan right-to-work law which went into effect on March 28, 2013,” the union said on page 16 of its magazine.
“Members are now able to resign their membership from MEA beyond the August window,” the union added.
To resign, members should submit their intent to leave, signed and dated, in writing. The MEA suggests including membership number and name of the local association and employer, and sending via certified mail, return receipt requested.
Resignations should be sent to: MEA, P.O. Box 51, East Lansing MI, 48826.
The MEA is also accepting resignations by email now, according to the magazine. Emailed resignations should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The change comes after the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation fought on behalf of four Saginaw teachers who charged the MEA with threatening to turn them over to a collection agency for not paying their dues even though they had notified the union of their desire to leave. MERC ruled unanimously in favor of teachers Jason LaPorte, Susan Romska, Kathy Eady-Miskiewicz and Matthew Knapp.
The magazine also included the following notice:
NOTICE TO UNION MEMBERS
AFTER A PUBLIC HEARING, THE MICHIGAN EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS COMMISSION HAS FOUND THE SAGINAW EDUCATION ASSOCIATION AND THE MICHIGAN EDUCATION ASSOCIATION TO HAVE COMMITTED UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICES IN VIOLATION OF THE MICHIGAN PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS ACT (PERA). PURSUANT TO THE TERMS OF THE COMMISSION’S ORDER,
WE HEREBY NOTIFY OUR MEMBERS THAT:
WE WILL NOT restrain and coerce employees in the exercise of their rights under §9 of PERA to refrain from joining or assisting in labor organizations. WE WILL NOT maintain or enforce a rule that prohibits members from resigning their union memberships except during the month of August. WE WILL NOT refuse to accept Kathy Eady-Miskiewicz’s September 18, 2013 resignation from her union membership, Jason LaPorte’s September 18, 2013 resignation from his union membership, Susan Romska’s September 20, 2013 resignation from her union membership, and Matt Knapp’s October 7, 2013 resignation from his union membership. WE WILL remove the last sentence of Article I from the bylaws or amend it to reflect the fact that it can no longer be enforced as written. WE WILL affirmatively notify Kathy Eady-Miskiewicz, Jason LaPorte, Susan Romska, and Matt Knapp in writing that their resignations in September and October 2013 have been accepted.
(Chantal Lovell is Media Relations manager for Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland.)