The Michigan Education Association (“MEA”) accepts union membership resignations only in August of each year. If you are a member of the MEA but no longer want to be a member, you can resign your membership without opposition from the union from August 1 to August 31, 2014. Specifically, your resignation must be postmarked in August. If it is postmarked earlier or later than August, the MEA will not honor it.
The MEA has an internal bylaw that restricts when members may resign. It provides: “Continuing membership in the Association shall be terminated at the request of a member when such a request is submitted to the Association in writing, signed by the member and postmarked between August 1 and August 31 of the year preceding the designated membership year.” See http://www.mea.org/about/governance/Bylaws.pdf.
Despite enactment of Michigan’s Right to Work law, the MEA continues to enforce this bylaw and has been denying resignations members submit outside of August.
National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys believe the MEA’s window period for resignation is illegal because Michigan employees have the legal right to resign their union membership at any time. Employees Foundation attorneys represent are currently challenging the MEA bylaw’s legality in several pending cases.
However, it is unlikely that these cases will be resolved before August 2014. Thus, if you wish to resign from membership in the MEA without having to challenge the union’s bylaw, you must do so by sending a resignation letter to the MEA postmarked in August. Even if you already submitted a resignation letter to the MEA but did so outside of the August period, you should send another resignation letter to the MEA postmarked in August.
The decision to resign is wholly yours. If you resign, you would not have the right to vote on ratification of the collective bargaining agreement in your bargaining unit or the election of union officers. In addition, you would no longer be able to receive benefits that the union provides only to its members. However, you could not be denied any benefits under the collective bargaining agreement with your employer because of nonmembership, and the union would have to continue to represent you fairly and without discrimination in all matters of employment.
Importantly, if you are protected by Michigan’s Right to Work law, you cannot be forced to pay any dues or fees to the MEA after you resign your membership. The Right to Work law protects public-sector employees not subject to “grandfathered” collective bargaining agreements that were entered into before March 27, 2013. In other words, if the contract governing your employment was entered into or extended after March 27, 2013, you can cut off all dues payments to the MEA by resigning your membership.
More information about the Right to Work law can be found here.
Thus, as the summer break comes to an end, all school employees who are MEA members should remember that August is the only month in which the MEA will permit you to resign your membership. You may resign by drafting and sending, postmarked in August, your own letter or by using the sample letter found here. Although not legally required, we recommend that you send the letter to the MEA by certified mail, return receipt requested, to prove that the letter was postmarked in August. You may also want to send copies to your employer and to the local union. Retain a copy of your signed letter and the signed return receipt for your records.
If you have any questions about your right to resign membership in the MEA, or your rights if you do resign, feel free to contact the Foundation by completing this form, sending an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling 800-336-3600 toll free.