Michigan Teachers Can Exit Union Anytime: State Supreme Court

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By Alex Ebert

Michigan teachers can quit their unions anytime of the year after the Michigan Supreme Court refused to hear a series of appeals of right-to-work court victories.

The high court issued a one-paragraph order March 23 dealing a blow to public unions and denying the appeal of 11 consolidated cases in which lower courts held that a Michigan Education Association rule violated Michigan’s right-to-work law. The order leaves a 2017 Michigan Court of Appeals decision that the one-month window for members to quit the union violated state law’s prohibition against coercing or compelling a public employee to become or remain a union member or to support a union financially.

“The MEA’s efforts to limit school employees’ freedom is finally over,” Patrick Wright, director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation said in a statement. The Mackinac Center and the National Right to Work Foundation represented the workers challenging the union rules at no cost.

The ruling won’t have a large impact for the MEA’s 130,000-person membership, Doug Pratt, association spokesman told Bloomberg Law March 26. The association, the largest union for teachers in Michigan, has been functioning without the one-month window for about three years since a lower court first invalidated it.

The union’s challenge to the court of appeals ruling argued that prohibiting a one-month rule impaired the group’s right to contract with members.

“Our membership is dependent on lots of factors, including how many people are employed in Michigan schools,” Pratt said. “We’re seeing people want to be engaged and because we’re standing up for public education and school employees.”

The case is: Saginaw Educ. Ass’n v. Kathy Eady-Miskiewicz, Mich., No. 155906-16, order denying leave to appeal 3/23/18

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