On April 24, 2020, an Ann Arbor-area teacher Deborah Wolter filed a lawsuit against the Michigan Educators Association (MEA) because of dues she never owed to the union.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation provided Wolter with free legal aid in a case where MEA lawyers claim Wolter owes thousands of dollars in back dues. However, these dues were reportedly owed for a period following her resignation from the union. In accordance with Michigan’s Right to Work law, non-union members cannot be forced to pay dues as a condition of employment.
As her response to the union lawsuit points out, Wolter does not owe MEA any dues because of her resignation from the union in August 2014. Due to how MEA’s demands for dues are in violation of Michigan’s Right to Work law, Wolter’s attorneys are fighting to throw away the union’s false claims that she owes them any money.
MEA union lawyers are filing a lawsuit against Wolter for not paying dues as a non-union member, while Wolter’s legal counsel charge the union lawsuit runs afoul of Michigan’s Right to Work law—which bars nonmembers from being forced to pay union dues or fees and allows workers to stop making these payments after withdrawing from their union membership.
Union lawyers also claim in their lawsuit that Wolter did not resign union membership before she decided to stop paying dues, despite Wolter’s resignation in August of 2014. As her legal filings noted, Wolter “terminated her membership in both law and fact,” thus she had no obligation to owe dues to MEA union bosses.
In 2019, Foundation staff attorneys scored a victory for two other teachers at Wolter’s school who experienced similar demands from union bosses of the Ann Arbor Education Association (AAEA), an MEA affiliate. In that case, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that AAEA infringed on the rights of teachers Jeffrey Finnan and Cory Merante under Michigan’s Right to Work Law by obligating them to continue paying union fees although they had withdrawn their union membership.
Ever since Michigan passed its Right to Work law, which was passed in late 2012, Foundation staff attorneys have fought in over 120 cases for Michigan workers victimized by union bosses.
“It is despicable that Michigan union bosses yet again are demanding forced union dues in violation of Michigan’s Right to Work law,” remarked National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “The National Right to Work Foundation is proud to stand with Michiganders who are exercising their rights under Michigan’s Right to Work law that makes union financial support strictly voluntary.”