ON-Lion Letter

In February, the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) decided that the Taylor Federation of Teachers and Taylor School District committed an unfair labor practice by approving a 10-year union-security agreement that keeps teachers from exercising their new freedoms under Michigan's right-to-work law.

The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation (MCLF) in Midland, Mich., represents three Taylor teachers who say the union worked against them by negotiating the union-security clause that extends more than five years after its collective-bargaining agreement expires.  With the help of MCLF, Nancy Rhatigan, Rebecca Metz, and Angela Steffke legally challenged the school district and union in February 2013.

The union-security clause forced teachers to keep paying the union until 2023 -- a full six years beyond their current contract -- and allowed the union to have teachers fired for refusing to pay.

"MERC got this decision right," according to MCLF attorney Derk Wilcox.  "The Commission carefully considered the matter and decided that clearly the 10-year union security agreement should not bind teachers."

The decision from MERC also says the union and school district's "action was intended to delay the application of [the right-tow-work law] for ten years beyond its legislatively mandated effective date.  In so doing, [the union and district] have effectively compelled unwilling unit members, in violation of [the Public Employment Relations Act], to financially support the Union for the next decade.

"Imposing a lengthy financial burden on bargaining unit members, in order to avoid the application of a state law for ten years," MERC went on to say, "is arbitrary, indifferent and reckless."

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports the Mackinac Center.

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