Teachers’ union opt-out period for current school year ends Sunday

ISHPEMING – The time for school employees to opt out of becoming a dues-payer in their union is drawing to a close.

Michigan teachers and other school support staff have until Sunday to opt out under the state’s Right to Work law. There’s actually little difference between the current set up and the pre-Right to Work system.

“For the MEA, you never did have to join the union,” Michigan Education Association UniServ director for Marquette and Alger Counties Stu Skauge said. “We always had it where we would ask you to join, and you could either become a member of the union or you could become a fee-payer. If you were a fee-payer, you got all of the services, but you weren’t a member.”

Those who now opt out no longer have to pay the fees, either, but will still retain some services the union provides. For those who opted out due to financial reasons, the MEA is working on a plan to ease the burden.

“If you could show that you had a true hardship then we could help in some way,” Skauge said. “We will set up payments, but you’ll still end up paying the same dues.”

Last year, less than 1% of school employees across the state decided against paying dues. To date for this year’s period, only 14 of 900 total employees in Marquette and Alger Counties have opted out.