News Story

Union Will Use 'Any Legal Means' to Combat Members Who Want to Leave

Two former MEA local presidents question August-only resignation window

Michigan Education Association President Steve Cook said his union will use “any legal means at our disposal” to combat members who want to leave the union.

Cook made his statement in a letter he sent to MEA local presidents, board members and staff. MEA Spokesman Doug Pratt didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The MEA said if members want to resign, they have to do so in August, "and only August,” Cook wrote.

"We are sticking to that," Cook wrote. "Members who indicate they wish to resign membership in March, or whenever, will be told they can only do so in August." he wrote, adding that the union will take legal action against members or fee payers who chose not to pay their dues/service fees.

Patrick Wright, senior legal analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said there is a Michigan Employment Relations Commission ruling that supports the MEA's hardline stance.

"I don’t think it makes a ton of sense," Wright said. "The union's administrative concerns shouldn't trump people's freedoms."

Two former public school teachers' union presidents questioned how the MEA was handling the "August only" resignation window.

"I don’t like it," Dusty Fairfield, a former Ravenna teachers’ union president, said in an email. "First of all, have fun finding signed membership forms that are current. Secondly, you're going to come out publicly and threaten the very same people who have supported the MEA financially for their entire careers."

John Ellsworth, a former Grand Ledge teachers' union president agreed.

"If members wish to no longer be members, then those wishes should be honored," he said in an email. "Honoring those wishes may not happen instantly, but they should be honored at the next appropriate window. I hope that the MEA and locals approach it that way.

"It is never appropriate to ignore member requests, even if it is a request to resign membership," Ellsworth said. "If a member resigns in March, then I believe the MEA or local should tell the member that the resignation will be made effective in August when drops in membership are processed, but the member should not have to take further action."

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.