Michigan Teachers Leave Union

Michigan passed a Right to Work Law in March, 2013, proclaiming all workers could choose for themselves whether they wanted to belong to, or support a union in order to get or keep a job.

Prior to passage of the law, teachers were forced to either join up with the teacher union or become a nonmember, and pay a so-called “agency fee”.  This agency fee often amounted to 85% of the total dues amount, yet teachers who chose to be nonmember agency fee payors were forced to pay but had no privileges, such as voting on the district contract,or any other input into a union that was representing them.

While Michigan Education Association (MEA) officials consistently minimized their membership losses, Mike Antonucci has the real story in Intercepts.

Over the past two-and-a-half years, many of those contracts expired, and employees, including those working in Michigan’s public schools, were free to leave the union without an obligation to continue to pay fees. The result was a substantial loss in membership for the Michigan Education Association, the trend mirroring the early losses in Wisconsin after Act 10 was passed.

This year, Cook claimed, “Only about 2 percent of MEA members resigned this year, a significant reduction over last August’s resignation window.”

But the union’s disclosure report to the U.S. Department of Labor, dated yesterday, tells a different story.

MEA reported it had 94,559 active members working in the state’s public schools, down more than 13,000 (12.3%) from last year. Since the law went into effect, MEA has lost 18,558 members (16.4%).