Green Room

Are You a Union Member or a Lease?

posted at 1:01 pm on February 5, 2013 by

boromirTwo weeks ago, a December 2012 memo from Michigan Education Association president Steven Cook to union activists was leaked. Cook discussed strategies for dealing with the state’s new right-to-work law, scheduled to go into effect in March 27.

Mirroring tactics used in Wisconsin just before Act 10 provisions were enacted, Cook advised local presidents to settle contracts before March 27, and to explore extending existing contracts, so that agency fee provisions would remain in effect for the duration of that contract.

What caught the eye of most observers was Cook’s vow to sue members who attempted to resign before August 2013. “We will use any legal means at our disposal to collect the dues owed under signed membership forms from any members who withhold dues prior to terminating their membership in August for the following fiscal year. Same goes for any current fee payers who choose not to pay their service fee,” Cook wrote.

In an interview with WILX-TV Cook said the union “will exercise our rights under the law to collect what the association dues are.”

Cook is perfectly entitled to stand upon his economic rights, just as Verizon would if you wanted out of your wireless contract, or Comcast would if you wanted to terminate your cable service, or your landlord would if you needed to break your lease. But Verizon, Comcast and your landlord don’t spend their days claiming their purpose is “the improvement of education, the advancement of the interests of education and of educators, and the promotion of the professional growth of its members.” They are businesses, and you are in a business relationship with them.

If MEA wants to identify itself that way, then it should not have monopoly privileges, the ability to extract fees from non-customers, or entitlement to payroll deduction services from a government agency. Michigan’s right-to-work law simply tears down the facade.

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Cook said the union “will exercise our rights under the law to collect what the association dues are.”

Gollum…..Gollum

BobMbx on February 5, 2013 at 1:27 PM

‘Cook said the union “will exercise our rights under the law to collect what the association dues are.”’

I assume this sentence is being held up as an example of the high quality education MI kids are getting from the MEA’s members.

Hucklebuck on February 5, 2013 at 1:52 PM

A serf.

rbj on February 5, 2013 at 1:56 PM

Cook is perfectly entitled to stand upon his economic rights, just as Verizon would if you wanted out of your wireless contract, or Comcast would if you wanted to terminate your cable service, or your landlord would if you needed to break your lease.

That is a weak analogy because the teachers were FORCED to join the UNION but consumers voluntarily signed those contracts with Verizon and Comcast.

A contract that is entered by coercion is not really enforceable under the law and judge would probably throw the case out if the person who was forced to sign it later broke the contract.

JeffersonFan on February 5, 2013 at 2:11 PM

JeffersonFan on February 5, 2013 at 2:11 PM

the proper analogy might be a bank robbery where the teller is complying until he/she sees that it’s not a real gun. Good luck Stevie!

teejk on February 5, 2013 at 2:23 PM

That is a weak analogy because the teachers were FORCED to join the UNION but consumers voluntarily signed those contracts with Verizon and Comcast.

A contract that is entered by coercion is not really enforceable under the law and judge would probably throw the case out if the person who was forced to sign it later broke the contract.

JeffersonFan on February 5, 2013 at 2:11 PM

It would be a fun test case.

Lawyers? Is that initial contract still valid, or were they coerced?

TexasDan on February 5, 2013 at 2:37 PM

It would be a fun test case.
TexasDan on February 5, 2013 at 2:37 PM

Yes, yes it would.

CorporatePiggy on February 5, 2013 at 3:01 PM

Mirroring tactics used in Wisconsin just before Act 10 provisions were enacted, Cook advised local presidents to settle contracts before March 27, and to explore extending existing contracts

I forgot to mention…the handful of schools that heeded that advice got burned. I think Milwaukee (the largest district in the state by far) actually went to Walker to seek legislative help on backing out of their knee-jerk deal. HA has a regular poster (Steve) more familiar with politics than me so wait for the truth on that one.

teejk on February 5, 2013 at 4:43 PM

Union Member or Lessee?

besser tot als rot on February 5, 2013 at 6:00 PM

What? “Union Members on Leashes?”

BigAlSouth on February 5, 2013 at 9:10 PM

I’m supposed to join the union–SEIU. In Illinois, a forced union state. Been there over six months. They haven’t caught me yet. Shhh.

davidk on February 5, 2013 at 9:19 PM


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