Cutting their losses?

Education Minnesota obscures ‘opt out’ provisions in case the Court allows Minnesota teachers to quit their union.

Education Minnesota, the state’s most powerful public employee union, is quietly preparing to prevent the potential loss of thousands of members and millions of dollars, depending on the outcome of a landmark labor rights case expected to go before the U.S. Supreme Court’s fall term.

The pivotal case involves a public employee from Illinois named Mark Janus, who’s asked the high court to restore his First Amendment rights by reversing a 1977 decision that established “fair share” union fees for public employees.

If the Court takes Janus’ case and he wins, unionized public employees in non-right-to-work states like Illinois and Minnesota will have the right to keep their jobs even if they do not join or financially support the union.

As a result, Education Minnesota recently asked its local union representatives to get all 86,000 teachers to sign a “Membership Renewal” form that automatically renews payment of union fees every year unless the teacher remembers to opt out in writing.

Education Minnesota also plans to raise teachers’ annual dues—now roughly $615—by $14 a year in anticipation of the fallout from the Janus case, according to a union representative who contacted American Experiment.

The State of Minnesota currently requires school districts to deduct union dues (or “fair share” fees) from teacher paychecks and deposit the funds with the union.

Upon their return to the classroom this fall, teachers will be asked to sign the renewal card. The union has already filled out cards for all 86,000 teachers to sign, according to the teacher in contact with the Center.

The fine print at the bottom of the form is hard to read, but it is the key “contractual” language that the union is anxious to renew before the Janus case is decided in 2018.