Attorney: 'These scare tactics are...more what you would expect from boiler room telemarketers'
The Michigan Education Association is asking some members of its union who have inquired about opting out under the state's right-to-work law to initial a "Nonmember Informed Consent Form" which lists "benefits" they’d be giving up.
Though misleading, the form is entirely optional and has nothing to do with the actual right-to-work process.
An attorney compared the list to something people hear from telemarketers when trying to change phone services.
The Association of American Educators, a professional organization for educators, called the MEA’s informed-consent form a scare tactic.
“We’ve seen tactics like this in other states,” said Alexandra Freeze, spokeswoman for the AAE. “MEA union bosses are clearly trying to instill fear into teachers in an effort to keep members in the fold. Misleading opt-out requirements are just the tip of the iceberg.”
The form includes 25 items that the employee is asked to initialize, and teachers who sign the form still must go through a separate process to leave the union, which can be found at www.Augustoptout.org.
Some of the statements include: “I will not belong to the organization that is the collective voice for Michigan public schools, school employees and students.” As well as, “I will not receive $1 million employment liability insurance. If I am sued for events in the workplace, I will be responsible for my own legal defense and payment of any judgment.”
The MEA has said that the $1 million liability insurance only actually costs them $4.35 a year per member. And that type of insurance is available from organizations outside the MEA, such as AAE.
The AAE suggested a check list about themselves for workers who want to opt out of the union. It includes the following:
- "I will save hundreds of dollars every year."
- "I will not be forced to support radical social issues unrelated to education."
- "I will not be told who to vote for or be forced to contribute to partisan politics."
- "I will be able to join an organization that does not support illegal strikes."
Derk Wilcox, senior attorney for the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, called the informed consent form a “scare tactic.”
“First off, this so-called 'consent form' is completely unnecessary and does nothing to help teachers opt out of union membership,” Wilcox said. “Secondly, it misleadingly says that teachers can no longer get certain benefits, such as employment liability insurance. They can no longer get this insurance from the MEA, but there are many other options and sources of insurance coverage. These scare tactics are not what you would expect from a professional organization — it’s more what you would expect from boiler room telemarketers."