A Michigan-based labor union was ordered to stop violating the state right-to-work law Wednesday by dispatching debt collectors to seize money from nonmembers.
Alphia Snyder and Mary Carr were forced to fund the Michigan Education Association (MEA) despite being nonmembers. The school employees won their case against mandatory union dues in 2014 but the union appealed. The latest decision reaffirmed the previous decision while adding the use of union debt collectors as illegal.
“[The] decision deals a serious blow to union bosses’ campaigns of threats and intimidation against workers who chose to exercise their Right to Work,” National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix said in a statement. “Union bosses just don’t want to accept that Michigan is a Right to Work state, and workers unfortunately face resistance and intimidation just for exercising their workplace rights.”
Michigan outlawed mandatory union dues or fees when it enacted its right-to-work law in 2012. Since the law passed the MEA has been found on numerous occasions trying to bypass it. Snyder and Carr were among several school employees who won the 2014 case which found that the union violated the law by only allowing members to leave during a 30-day window each year.
Opt-out windows are used in both right-to-work and mandatory dues states to make it more difficult to become a nonmember. In no state can a person be forced to join a union but in states without right-to-work laws, nonunion workers can be legally compelled to pay a fee if their workplace is unionized. The fee can only include the cost of representation and not political expenses.
It was the passage of the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act which first allowed states to decide whether they want to be right-to-work. West Virginia became the 26th right-to-work state when it passed the law Feb. 12. The Republican majority was able to override a veto from Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin who opposed the policy.
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