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Michigan Appeals Court Denies Stay in Taylor Right-to-Work Case

March 6, 2015
By Derk Wilcox

The Michigan Court of Appeals Wednesday denied a motion from the Taylor Federation of Teachers-Local 1085 and Taylor School District for a “stay” in the labor dispute involving three Taylor teachers.

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The Michigan Court of Appeals Wednesday denied a motion from the Taylor Federation of Teachers-Local 1085 and Taylor School District for a “stay” in the labor dispute involving three Taylor teachers.

This means members of the bargaining unit may exercise their right-to-work freedoms beginning March 6.

Prior to this decision, the Michigan Employment Relations Commission ruled that the union’s 10-year “security” clause that dodged right-to-work was illegal. If the Court of Appeals had granted the stay, the effect of the commission’s decision would have been suspended pending the outcome of the appeal.

Last month, the Michigan Employment Relations Commission ordered the Taylor School District and the local to stop coercing teachers to financially support the union. The labor commission told the union, “Imposing a lengthy financial burden on bargaining unit members, in order to avoid the application of state law for ten years, is arbitrary, indifferent and reckless.”

The case involves Angela Steffke, Rebecca Metz and Nancy Rhatigan. The teachers reached out to the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation after their union and district agreed on a separate, unprecedented 10-year “security” clause that locked members into paying dues for a decade.

“We are thrilled that these teachers can finally exercise their freedoms under Michigan law,” said Derk Wilcox, senior attorney for the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation. “Despite attempts from the union and school district to force these teachers to pay an organization which they don’t agree with, it looks like freedom of association won here.”

Despite the court’s denial of a stay, it is possible that MERC’s decision could still be overturned in the appeals process. If that happened, the union may be able to force teachers to pay dues or fees, and the district would be contractually obligated to fire teachers who do not.

“We will continue to fight for these teachers and all members of the bargaining unit who would rather be part of an organization by choice rather than force,” said Wilcox.

Derk Wilcox (wilcox@mackinac.org) is a senior attorney at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. An earlier version of this news release was published at http://www.mackinac.org/21075. Used with permission.