News Story

School districts could become dues collectors for employee unions under current legislation

MEA, other unions, could make a collection requirement part of employee contracts

Government employee unions could receive some favors if a bill in the Michigan Legislature were enacted.

Senate Bill 1093, introduced by Sen. Erika Geiss, D-Taylor, on June 23, would undo a 2012 change to Public Act 336 of 1947. The 2012 change prohibits public schools from using taxpayer resources in assisting a labor organization in collecting union dues from its workers. These collections are considered a contribution to “the administration of a labor organization.”

The bill would strip this prohibition from state law. Districts would not be required by law to use taxpayer dollars to benefit a union in this way, but they would have to perform this service if they made it part of a collective bargaining contract with the union.

“Taxpayers should not be the collection agency for private unions. If they want people to pay dues, they should do what pretty much every other private membership organization in the world has to do and go get people to sign up by credit card and collect the dues themselves,” says Jarrett Skorup, marketing and communications director at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Unions would also face less oversight under the legislation. Senate Bill 1093 would remove from state law the requirement that unions have an independent examiner audit their finances to determine how dues are being spent, whether on bargaining, contract administration, or grievance adjustments. The results are currently published by the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.

Membership in the Michigan Education Association, which represents teachers and other employees in educational settings, has decreased over the last decade.

The union had 117,265 members in 2012. That number was 80,905 in 2021, a 31% decrease, driven in large part by a right-to-work law enacted in late 2012.

Geiss did not respond to a request for comment.

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.