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Union Scheme to Prevent Teachers from Leaving: Make Process Confusing, Set One-Month Time Limit

Michigan Education Association tries to get around Right-to-Work.

DreamstimeDreamstimeAre you a Michigan public teacher who wants to leave your union? Sorry, you’re too late.

Michigan is a Right-to-Work state, and teachers have the right to opt-out of their union—but only if they do so during the month of August, and only if they manage to find the top secret post office box that accepts union resignations, according to the Michigan Education Association.

It’s a straightforward conflict: employees in Michigan won the legal right to leave their collective bargaining arrangements in 2012, but public employee unions—including the MEA, which represent teachers—want to keep as many dues-paying members in their clutches as possible. To that end, the MEA has mandated that teachers must declare their intention to opt-out during the month of August.

But that’s not all. The MEA also requires members to send their union resignations to an obscure P.O. Box, rather than MEA headquarters. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy reports:

In an apparent effort to make it even more difficult or even stop school employees from exercising their right under right-to-work to not pay union dues or fees, the state’s largest teachers union has quietly set up an obscure post office box address to which members must send the required opt-out paperwork. It's P.O. Box 51 East Lansing, MI 48826.

Based on a letter the Michigan Education Association sent to members who had tried to get out, and discussions with some of them, resignation requests sent to the regular union headquarters address will not be honored.

An extensive search of the union's websites found references to the post office box address on just one page of MEA's main website, and on one affiliate union’s website. There is no record of this post office box address existing before this month. In the past, union members who wanted to opt out just had to send notification to the address of the MEA's headquarters in East Lansing.

When asked for comment by Mackinac reporter Tom Gantert, MEA declined to provide a rationale for its actions. It’s hard not to see the new P.O. Box as a thinly-veiled attempt to make the opt-out process so cumbersome that members exceed the one-month time limit.

But there’s some good news for teachers who missed the deadline: in June, an administrative law judge ruled that employees have the legal right to opt-out at any time, and the Michigan Employment Relations Commission is inclined to support that decision.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

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  • Almanian Bridges, Not Walls||

    Yeah, fuck unions - especially teachers unions.

    You want to organize? Fine. But almost 27 years of dealing with these fuckers, they exist - like any other institution - solely to continue their existence. No transparency, make it as hard as possible to leave, etc. etc.

    I'm enjoying the schadenfreude IMMENSELY. The unions earned all this - and brought it on themselves in MI, BTW. Gov. Snyder had no plans to pursue RTW, nor to approve it if the legislature put legislation on his desk. But Bob King - then head of the UAW - decided to press the issue. The unions put an initiative on the ballot to preclude RTW. It failed. The rest is history.

    Couldn't have happened to a nicer group of people. Go fuck yourselves and enjoy the bed you made, you money-grubbing pukes.

  • ||

    For 23 years my wife has been a teacher and still can't point to a single thing they've done for her. In the 15 or 16 years (give or take. I think) I've known her I may have replied, 'why are you asking me? Ask your lazy, parasitical, cocksucking, thieving union rep' a thousand and one times about things relating to her work (health plan, pensions etc.). Her health plan is pure garbage.

    Here in Quebec, the unions still have a powerful hold on this place like the Mafia in the streets. It's that bad.

    How bad is Quebec? I'll tell you. When it comes to bidding (for Metro cars, hospitals etc.) in Montreal the same two companies magically keep getting the contracts - Bombardier and SNC Lavalin. The bidding process used to be hidden but after the Charbonneau Commission it's now 'open'. So, now international companies can bid. Often they come in with more experience, more expertise and better pricing for various and certain projects yet guess who still gets the contracts?

    It's nuts to the point of insulting.

    I'm sure the unions are mixed up somewhere in that racket as well.

  • Rhywun||

    You want to organize? Fine.

    Private sector - sure. The public sector was never intended to be allowed to unionize - it was allowing this much later which is bankrupting us now.

  • ||

    only if they do so during the month of August, and only if they manage to find the top secret post office box

    ... in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'.

  • Swiss Servator||

    +1 Vogon Constructor Fleet

  • db||

    Of course, I came here to say this.

  • Illocust||

    So what they intended to happen is to make it too hard to it in time so people would have to continue paying dues. What's really going to happen is people are going to turn from merely not wanting their money to support the union to actively badmouthing the union for its dirty tactics encouraging others to leave the union. Good, I hope they lose the majority of their members over this bullshit.

  • Jack Strawb||

    I look forward to that, and then to watching each individual teacher try to negotiate with a school board with their now non-existent leverage. You want a higher salary than some kid who just got her certificate will get? Eff you.
    Health benefits? Eff you. Pension? Tell it to the private sector, pal. Summer's off? Hilarious! Teaching summer school is now a mandatory part of the job.

    You lot are incredible.

  • 3||

    Maybe rtw laws will shock unions into realizing they are there to provide a service to members.

  • Griffin3||

    Maybe rtw laws will shock unions into realizing they are there must at least pretend to provide a service to members.

    FTFY

  • ||

    I wish I could upvote this comment.

  • WaltDuro||

    Well, It would nice to be able to opt out of the MEA and/or the AFT anytime for any reason. It would also be nice to opt out of the various schemes whereby politicians take taxes from regular folks and give it to their cronies in business, government and so called, non-profits. Its always interesting to see "Conservatives" pick and choose the research that comes out of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Nominal Conservatives (b.k.a. RINOs) love to reference the Mackinac Center when it comes to the Privatization Report or Right to Work issues, but they completely, totally ignore what the Center says about Corporate Welfare, Crony Capitalism, Government Interference in the Economy. As far as Right to Work goes, in Michigan, you have the RTW unless you: Sell Raw Milk. Fix Teeth. Roof Houses. Raise Pigs. Appraise Homes. Install Air-conditioning. Teach Algebra. Grow Weed. Repair Plumbing. Sell Cars. Cut Hair. Massage People. Give Medical Care to Animals. Sell Real Estate. Grow Potatoes. Wire Homes. Repair Automobiles. Make Dentures. Sell Lemonade. Give Economic Advice. Sell Medicine. Do Cement Work. Examine Eyes. Do Carpentry. Take X-Rays. Fix In-Grown Toenails. Make Beer. Drive Truck. Give Legal Advice. Apply Pesticides. Repair Appliances. Color Hair. Fit Glasses. Set Broken Bones. Cut Lawns. Install Elevators.....

  • Ken Shultz||

    There is one sign the Michigan Education Association can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. MEA, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for Milwaukee and Wisconsin, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. MEA, open this gate. Michigan Education Association, tear down this wall!

  • Galactic Chipper Cdr Lytton||

    How is this legal under Pattern Makers v. NRLB? You have the right to resign from a union at anytime.

  • ChicagoTom||

    My Condo association has a contract with a vendor. It was in place before I moved in over 15 years ago. It's an evergreen contract. it renews every 5 years. The only way to cancel is to submit in writing to the vendor a cancellation notice between 60 and 30 days prior to the renewal date. 61 days prior or 29 days prior and the cancellation noticed is considered invalid and the contract will be renewed. Once every 5 years you get a one month window to cancel the contract.


    That's a fairly apt comparison to the teachers union contract in question.
    Yet no one bats an eye when a non-union entity does it. Why is this example supposed to be so horrid or unfair? What is the difference other than a disliked entity is using contracts in a way to make it difficult for people to get out of their contracts?


    Many entities use exactly these kind of tactics....but when a union does its a travesty?? Why is that, exactly other than because "unions suck" ?

  • DaveSs||

    I rather doubt this was included in their contract. Its just a bureaucratic FYTW by the union.

  • dantheserene||

    Just because unions suck and other things also suck, doesn't make unions suck less.

  • ChicagoTom||

    "Just because unions suck and other things also suck, doesn't make unions suck less."

    But no one who supports the sanctity of contracts and free enterprise claim those other things suck. Nor are courts overturning these contracts/stipulations.

  • dantheserene||

    The PO box didn't exist a month ago. Was that part of the contract? Or some BS they came up with after the fact?

  • ChicagoTom||

    "The PO box didn't exist a month ago. Was that part of the contract? Or some BS they came up with after the fact?"

    I agree that part is BS, but the fact that they can only cancel in August is not out of the ordinary...the ruling that came down against it was about being able to terminate your membership any time.

    Again, I can't just leave my gym at any time or leave my cellular provider without a termination fee or a penalty, nor can I cancel our Condo association if I dont submit in writing during a very narrow window

  • dantheserene||

    The union is full of shit, but we can't say anything against their tactics 'cause "contracts?" How do you feel about free association, as in, teachers shouldn't be forced to contribute to the union as a condition of employment because it has nothing to do with teaching and everything to do with rent seeking?

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