Lawsuit Against Decade-Long Union Dues Clause Suffers Setback
Teacher: 'We'll continue fighting'
Three Taylor School District teachers who are opposed to a union contract clause that forces them to pay dues or fees for 10 years will have to wait for their day in court because a Wayne County Circuit Court Judge ruled Tuesday she didn't have jurisdiction to rule on the case.
The Taylor School District and Taylor Federation of Teachers-Local 1085 agreed to a four-year union contract last year, but then also agreed to a union security clause that lasts until 2023. The deal was reached to avoid the state's right-to-work law, which gives union members the freedom to decide if they want to pay dues or fees as a condition of employment.
Judge Daphne Means Curtis dismissed the case and said she thinks the case should instead be decided by the Michigan Employment Relations Commission.
The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation filed the lawsuit in February on behalf of three teachers in the Taylor School District against the school district, the board of education and the teachers’ union. The teachers, Angela Steffke, Rebecca Metz and Nancy Rhatigan, have taught in Taylor for several years and all objected to the forced dues extension.
Steffke, a special education teacher, said in a press release that she was disappointed by the judge’s decision.
"It's disappointing, but we know the 10-year dues requirement is wrong and we’ll continue fighting,” she said.
Judge Curtis suggested the case be filed with MERC because it resolves labor disputes that include private and public sector employees. MERC appoints mediators and arbitrators to cases.
The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation could file an appeal or file the case with MERC or do both, said Patrick Wright, director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation.
"Today was just the start," Wright said, adding he thinks the case could end up at the Michigan Supreme Court.
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.