Appeals court rules on teacher union case
Michigan teachers and other school employees can quit a union at any time, not just one month a year, the state appeals court said.
In a 3-0 decision, the court said yesterday it's following Michigan's right-to-work law, which stipulates workers can't be forced to support a union to keep their jobs. The court said restricting union resignations to August clashes with the Legislature's goal of giving employees more choices.
"We hold that establishing a broad right to refrain from union affiliation is reasonably related to the legislatively identified public need for voluntary unionism," judges Brock Swartzle, Peter O'Connell and Jane Beckering said.
The court affirmed a series of rulings by the Republican-controlled Michigan Employment Relations Commission, known as MERC. National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix called the decision a "big win for worker freedom."
The Michigan Education Association, the largest school union with 140,000 members statewide, had argued that the resignation rule was a union matter that should be beyond the reach of MERC.
The court, however, said restricting the opportunity to resign from a union to one month out of the year effectively forces continued affiliation for however long it happens to take in a given situation until that time of year arrives."
The court consolidated cases from school districts in Saginaw, Standish, Grand Blanc and Battle Creek.
"We're reviewing the court's opinion and any further legal steps," MEA spokesman Doug Pratt said. "We've been abiding by MERC's ruling since it was initially made, despite that fact that we disagree with their interference in our business practices."