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Court of Appeals Unanimously Rules Against MEA's 'August Window'; Upholds Teachers' Right to Work

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The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of a group of teachers
who have been fighting to exercise their right to work, confirming that
the Michigan Education Association's (MEA's) August Window policy is
illegal.

The unanimous court affirmed the 2015 unanimous ruling by the Michigan
Employment Relations Commission (MERC), finding that the MEA violated
the Public Employment Relations Act (PERA) and committed an unfair labor
practice by only allowing teachers to opt out of membership during the
month of August.

"We are happy to tell teachers that the union's so-called August Window
remains illegal and that they may drop union membership at any time,"
said Patrick Wright, director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation,
which represented several teachers in the case. "Not a single judge has
agreed with the MEA on this issue. It's clear: Teachers have the right
to work in Michigan and cannot be compelled to remain union members.
Furthermore, because the MEA's dues-deduction and membership form that
most employees signed upon starting their jobs does not have a clear
waiver, these employees cannot be forced to provide the union additional
financial support after their resignations."

In October 2013, Saginaw teachers Jason LaPorte, Susan Romska, Kathy
Eady-Miskiewicz and Matthew Knapp charged the
union with threatening to turn them over to a collection agency after
they informed it they wanted to opt out. The MEA did not inform these
teachers of its restrictive "August
Window
" resignation period and told the teachers they had to pay up
and wait until the following year to resign. The Mackinac Center Legal
Foundation has been representing them since, and the case was
consolidated with other similar suits by the Court of Appeals.

Following the 2015 MERC ruling against the MEA, the union was required
to notify members via print and online editions of the its Voice magazine
of the following:

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.

The MEA complied with this order in the December
2015 issue of Voice
saying on page 16, "The
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 members
should submit their intent to leave, signed and dated, in writing. The
MEA suggested that members seeking to leave the union send their
membership number and name of the local association and employer via
certified mail, return receipt requested to the following address:

MEA
P.O. Box 51
East Lansing MI 48826

The MEA also accepts resignations by email — emailed resignations should
be sent to resignation@mea.org.

If the MEA decides to appeal, its next step would be to file an
application to appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court.

Related documents:

Court
of Appeals ruling

MEA's
‘August Window' Ruled Illegal; Union Must Change Bylaws and Accept
Resignations

Court
of Appeals Denies MEA's Request to Keep ‘August Window'

MEA
Announces Violation of Right-to-Work Law, Says Members May Leave at
Anytime

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