Frequently Asked Questions

What is right-to-work?

Right-to-work simply means that a union cannot have a worker fired for not paying them. It does not change collective bargaining in any other way. Unions and workers can still negotiate over pay, benefits, and anything else they can bargain under Michigan law.

If I am in the Michigan Education Association, does right-to-work apply to me?

Yes, as long as you are working under a contract that has been entered into, renewed, or extended after the new law took effect on March 28, 2013.

If you are working under a contract that took effect before March 28, 2013, you still can resign from the union and become an agency fee payer, but you would still be required to pay a portion of dues.

If I have opted out of the union before, do I need to do so again?

No, once you are out of the union, you are done paying dues unless you decide to opt back in.

There is one caveat to this. If you are an agency fee payer in the union because your district was not yet eligible for right-to-work, you will need to opt out fully in order to pay no dues.

Will I still be able to have liability insurance?

The MEA provides $1 million worth of liability insurance to its members. That sounds impressive, but the union admits that this costs them only $4.35 per year per member. School districts often carry liability insurance for activities that happen on their property, but if you want more protection than that there are other options. Some educators join the Association of American Educators or the Christian Educators Association, both of which offer $2 million worth of liability insurance and legal consultation for significantly less cost than MEA dues.

How do I resign from the MEA?

Notify your union representative and your employer anytime. You can fill out a form at michiganunionoptout.com with all the necessary information needed to resign from the MEA.

Can I be fired for not being in the union?

No. Being a member of a union is completely voluntary, if your collective bargaining agreement was agreed to or modified after March 28, 2013. You cannot legally be fired from your job or be penalized for belonging to a union or not belonging to a union. Before right-to-work was passed, your union could require nonmembers to pay an agency fee, which is often nearly the same amount as full dues.

How will right-to-work impact collective bargaining?

Besides taking away a union’s ability to require a worker to pay dues, right-to-work has no other effect on collective bargaining. Unions and workers can still negotiate wages, benefits, hours and working conditions with employers, and all employees, regardless of union membership status, will be covered by the union contract.

Under right-to-work, however, any provision that tries to require an employee to pay union dues or agency fees is not enforceable if the contract was agreed to or modified after March 28, 2013. Thus an employee who chooses not to give a union support cannot be fired for that reason nor can the union file a civil lawsuit against the employee in order to seek financial support.

What if my collective bargaining agreement was signed before March 28, 2013, and has not yet expired or been modified? Do I have to wait or can I still resign and pay less than I am currently paying?

You can still resign your union membership and you can also exercise what are known as your “Abood rights.” Your Abood rights are named after a Supreme Court case that says you do not have to pay money to your union for its political activities.

Under Abood, an employee can generally limit his or her payment to the union to “amounts related to collective bargaining, contract administration or grievance adjustment.”

Is there a way for teachers to just financially support their local union and not the MEA or NEA?

School employees cannot choose to only pay dues to their local union. They can, however, opt out of their union membership and then send donations to their local association if they so choose. If the majority of employees in an MEA unit want a union but do not want to be affiliated with the MEA they would need to decertify from the MEA through an election. Here is more information on decertification.

If teachers opt out, can they be retaliated against through bad evaluations?

No. Michigan’s right-to-work law is very simple: It merely says that no one can be fired for not paying money to a union. It is illegal for a school district or other employer to discriminate against you for exercising this right.

How Much Could Opting Out Save You?

Find out how much you could have at the end of your career if you opted out this summer and invested your dues: