News Story

Dearborn schools responds to CapCon story on contract language

U.S. Supreme Court has ruled union fees requirements for public employees unconstitutional

Dearborn Public Schools has responded to a March 22 story that Michigan Capitol Confidential published on the district’s contract with an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers union.

The contract appears to defy a ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court that public sector employees have a constitutional right not to pay union dues or fees. 

The contract reads, in part:

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.

David Mustonen, director of communications for Dearborn schools, responded to the CapCon story with this emailed message:

We reached out to the DFT President to see if any fees have been collected and she confirmed that the Union has not collected any fees. We also asked our attorney for clarification. They shared that as long as we don't honor the provision we are not in violation of the law. They also recommended a discussion on removing the language during any future negotiations as this has been in the contract for several years. Although this may be language the Union would want to keep in the contract, a possible compromise could be some sort of statement clarifying that the language will be operable if in the future the practice complies with applicable law.

Steve Delie, director of labor policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, thinks the contract poorly serves Dearborn employees. “Whether or not this language is enforced, it is still misleading,” he told CapCon. Keeping inoperative language in the contract is not the best practice, he said, as it requires teachers to be up to date on the latest legal developments.

“School employees have a constitutional right to work without being forced to pay a union, and their contracts should clearly reflect that.”

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.