News Story

Dearborn school contract appears to ignore Supreme Court ruling

Contract implies teachers must pay union dues or fees

The union contract between Dearborn Public Schools and the American Federation of Teachers violates the 2018 United States Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME.

The contract’s union security section lays out an arrangement between the union and the district to ensure employees pay the union. Page 11 of the contract, which the union and school board agreed to Nov. 2, 2023, includes the following language, which is part of a notice the district delivers to new employees:

An employee represented by the Union who chooses not to become a member of the union or who after joining the union decides to resign is subject to the Union Security Clause (the “Clause”) of the collective bargaining agreement between the Union and the Dearborn Public Schools. The Clause requires an employee who does not join the union to pay an agency fee, also called a service or representation fee.

The contract violates the court’s ruling in the Janus case, said Steve Delie, director of labor policy at the Mackinac Center.

“The U.S. Supreme Court was clear in Janus v. AFSCME that public employees can’t be forced to choose between joining a union and keeping their jobs,” Delie told CapCon.

The Dearborn contract is misleading, Delie said, because it leads employees to reasonably conclude they are required to pay the union to remain employed. Which is not true.

“This language is highly concerning and should be removed,” Delie added.

CapCon sent an email to district officials to ask why the employee contract contains the language. They have not responded.

The state, under Democratic control, revoked Michigan’s right-to-work law in 2023, with the changes taking effect Feb. 13, 2024.

Right-to-work’s repeal does not affect government employees, however. Under Janus they have a First Amendment right not to join a union. But private sector employees who are covered under a union contract do have to pay the union to keep their jobs — either union dues or union agency fees. Fees are slightly less than union dues because, under other laws, employees cannot be required by a contract to pay for their union’s political activity.

The American Federation of Teachers, the union whose contract governs Dearborn’s teachers, has shed about one-third of its members since 2012, when the state enacted right-to-work. In 2012 it had 25,608 members in Michigan. As of 2022, it had 16,994 members a 32.2% decrease.

If you are an employee in the Dearborn school district and have been paying agency fees because you were unaware of the law and believe you were misled by the union contract, contact Michigan Capitol Confidential. We want to hear from you. Send our email to

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.