ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A teacher is headed to court demanding the Michigan Education Association stop harassing him and allow him to opt out of the union.
The right to work laws took the state out the relationship between unions and employees. When it comes to union dues, instead of a government requirement to stay current, it’s now left up to the union’s to collect. It also allowed union members to opt out of that relationship.
Ronald Robertson is a 24-year science teaching veteran from Ann Arbor Pioneer High School. He filed an unfair labor practice claim against the MEA with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission.
“I’m pro union,” Robertson said. “All of my family were union members.”
Robertson opted out of the union claiming it didn’t do a good enough job representing him in the last negotiation.
The union paperwork he’s been sent said he is no longer a union member but still required to pay dues.
Robertson views it as harassment.
“I filed my original complaint as a harassment charge to have them stop sending me bills, to have them stop continually sending things that say you have to be a union member, you have to do this,” Robertson said.
Many teachers across Michigan who opted out are getting similar letters threatening to send collection agencies after them if they don’t pay. Teachers have also been sent large packets of information saying they need to come back to the union.
“It’s kind of a love-hate relationship,” Robertson said. “I would like to see them do well. I really would. But at the same time I would like them to be accountable for all of the voices and not just a chosen few.”
The legal battle is currently over whether the contract in Ann Arbor was in effect when he opted out and whether that obligates him to pay dues.