Can a teachers union force non-members to pay the wages of unionized teachers who are away from their jobs on "union business"? The Mackinac Center for Public Policy says no.
Adam Neuman, a public school teacher in Brighton, Michigan, is a veteran who served in Afghanistan in 2011. He disagreed with the National Education Association—the parent organization for his local union—over the organization's anti-war activism, and sought to leave the union in accordance with the state's Right to Work law.
Neuman believed that would end any obligation he had to contribute money toward views he didn't support. He was wrong. The union insisted that his contract still required him to contribute money toward a "release time" fund, which pays teachers who have temporarily stepped away from their normal duties to attend to union business. (Taxpayers also subsidize this practice to the tune of $2.7 million, according to Mackinac.)
Mackinac has filed suit on behalf of Neuman:
"What part of opting out does the union not understand?" said Patrick Wright, vice president for legal affairs at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. "They are not allowed to raid a non-member's paycheck."
In addition to the fact that the "release time" payments force non-members to pay for activities they don't support and have a legal right to disassociate from, the practice has a secondary, insidious effect. Neuman explained that teachers will be more reluctant to leave the union if they are forced to pay regardless:
Neuman says he knows teachers who feel that way.
"Their opinion was, they wanted out, but if they're going to still take my money, I might as well stay in so I can at least vote," said Neuman.
Keep in mind that Michigan Education Association President Steven Cook repeatedly denigrated ex-members as "freeloaders." Attempting to exercise basic free association rights sure is a nasty business when the union bosses fight back.
Watch Mackinac's interview with Neuman below: