There are about 110,000 members of the MEA. Last year, 1,500 teachers opted out.
(WZZM) - If you're a teacher in Michigan, your window to opt out of the teacher's union closes at the end of August.
After Michigan became a right-to-work state, it was the beginning of the end for forced unionization. Just how that's implemented and when have been a source of contention, especially between the Michigan Education Association and teachers who want to quit the union. The Mackinac Center has been active in supporting teachers who want to opt out of the union and they in fact have a website to help MEA members resign their union membership. (www.augustoptout.org).
There are about 110,000 members of the MEA. Last year, 1,500 teachers opted out. That's about one per cent. Earlier this year, it was reported another 8,000 teachers weren't paying their dues. How many of those will actually opt out this year is not yet known.
The teacher's union rejects that number saying many of those teachers are now paying their dues. The union says since the new law does not allow union dues to be automatically deducted from paychecks, many teachers were confused and just failed to choose a new way to pay at the beginning of the year.
Rob Wiersema opted out in August of last year. He's been a teacher at Hopkins High School for 15 years. He says he was able to find an alternative to the Michigan Education Association that cost him about a fifth of his MEA union dues.
Wiersema says he has nothing against teachers who want to be part of a union, it's just not for him. He also thinks the MEA is too politically active and spends money supporting mostly democratic candidates and that does not reflect the varying views of teachers.
The MEA's Doug Pratt contends all this is not new, that the right-to-work law and The Mackinac Center have reignited attempts to destroy the union. Pratt says the August opt out window has been around for 40 years and the MEA is well within the law that says membership organizations have the right to set such policies. Pratt says most teachers have decided to remain members of the MEA because they see value in belonging to the organization.