Some universities not agreeing to lengthy agreements that force faculty, others to pay dues or fees after right-to-work law goes into effect
Two state universities have rejected union deals that would have averted the state's new right-to-work law.
The Ferris State University Board of Trustees and the Central Michigan University Board of Trustees rejected contracts from unions that included union security agreements. Such agreements prohibit union members from exercising their right to decide if they want to pay dues or fees to be in a union, which is their option beginning March 28 thanks to the state becoming the nation's 24th right-to-work state late last year.
Some school districts and some state universities have approved deals that allow unions to forcibly collect dues or fees for longer than the duration of current contracts. Wayne State University recently approved an eight-year contract that forces faculty to continue paying dues or fees as a condition of employment.
Ferris State rejected a contract from the Ferris Faculty Association on Feb. 22 that would have extended a union security agreement through 2017-18.
"First, the board supports an environment where individual Ferris faculty members have the ability to choose the ways in which, and the level to which, they support those who bargain on their behalf," the Board of Trustees of the Big Rapids-based university said in a press release. "This is the intent of recently passed state law, and the proposal in front of us would have curtailed this right. With the willing support of the faculty, the Ferris Faculty Association will provide effective and responsive advocacy for its members.
"Second, the Board of Trustees has a fiduciary responsibility to the university and its students. The board has concerns that approving this proposal could have significant consequences that negatively impact the university’s fiscal position, and ultimately our students."
Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant has told several campus unions it won't agree to union security agreements, according to an internal document.
"CMU has reviewed the requests and concluded, while not illegal, the effects of the proposals would circumvent the intent of the law and deny employees their legal rights under Michigan's new right-to-work legislation," Provost Gary Shapiro said in a statement released by CMU.
Political Analyst Bill Ballenger, a former GOP state representative who now runs the political newsletter, Inside Michigan Politics, said he has not had discussions with any of the trustees at Central Michigan or Ferris State, but speculated the decisions are politically motivated.
CMU and Ferris State have their trustees appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder, who signed the legislation into law late last year after unions in the state pushed Proposal 2 to try and lock union benefits into the state constitution. Ballenger said the universities that agree to union security agreements have board members elected and generally are dominated by Democrats.
The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation has filed a lawsuit on behalf of three teachers against the Taylor School District Board of Education and the Taylor Federation of Teachers-Local 1085 for agreeing to a 10-year union security agreement.