Once Powerful Michigan Education Association is Desperate for Funds

The Michigan Education Association, once one of the most powerful National Education Association (NEA) state affiliates, has fallen to new lows of desperation.  The tactic, of suing members for forced dues, is not a new one.  Prior to 1993, when Indiana passed a Right To Work Law for teachers, Hoosier teachers were taken to court by the Indiana State Teachers Association almost as a matter of course. 

National Right to Work Legal Defense Attorney Glenn Taubman, discusses the implications.  Bill Morris, Washington Free Beacon, has the story:

The president of Michigan’s largest union is instructing officials to prepare to sue its own members, according to a leaked memo issued after the state adopted right-to-work laws in December.

Steven Cook, president of the Michigan Education Association, circulated an email to local unions officials and staff instructing them to monitor revenue streams in light of the right-to-work laws, which are set to go into effect on March 27, 2013. The law allows workers to opt out of union membership unless they have an existing contract with their employer.

“We will use any legal means at our disposal to collect the dues owed under signed membership forms from any members who withhold dues prior to terminating their membership in August,” Cook wrote.

Glenn Taubman, an attorney with the National Right-to-Work Legal Defense Foundation, said Cook’s fears are well-founded, pointing to Indiana’s recent courtroom victory over unions attempting to block its right-to-work law.

“He recognizes that the courts are not going to strike down right-to-work; it’s been upheld for too long,” he said. “That doesn’t mean they won’t try; they have a lot at stake and plenty of forced dues money, but they have to know that their odds are slim.”

The leaked memo gives a “rare glimpse” into union strategy and its mindset in the wake of successful labor reforms in Michigan as well as Wisconsin and Indiana, Taubman said.