Teachers and ESPs have a Narrow Seven -Day Window to Resign from Education Minnesota: September 24-30

It is back-to-school time for teachers and education support professionals (ESPs) but is it back to the union as well?

At the end of June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that forcing public employees to fund a union as a condition of employment violated their First Amendment rights. That long-anticipated decision in Janus v Afscme had immediate financial consequences for Minnesota’s public-sector unions.

Across Minnesota, government employers stopped deducting agency or “fair-share” fees from the paychecks of employees who had exercised their right not to join the union. People like Mark Janus and Rebecca Friedrichs who had exercised their right not to associate with their workplace union got a pay raise this summer.

By the way, Mark and Rebecca will be in Minnesota to celebrate this huge victory for employee freedom and the restoration of the First Amendment rights of public employees on Monday, September 17. I hope you plan to join us for the lunch at the Hilton in Minneapolis to hear their amazing stories. (You can register on line here.) How often do you get to meet a hero?

But what about employees who belong to the union? Was there anything in the Janus decision to help them?

The Court made it clear that employers and unions had to have the affirmative consent of employees before they deduct dues from paychecks. But what that means in practical terms is still being debated.

Center of the American Experiment and legal scholars around the country are taking the position that many employees who signed a union card did not freely give their consent. You cannot waive a legal right you did not know you had.

Moreover, some employees signed union cards under duress; that the choice of joining or not joining but paying 85 percent of dues, losing your right to vote on the contract you paid to have negotiated, losing all membership benefits like liability coverage and maybe even getting hassled by the union, was not a choice at all.

Underlying this problem is that under Minnesota labor law, employees who do not belong to the union have to accept the union as their exclusive bargaining agent as a condition of employment even if they prefer to cut their own deal or disagree with the contract.

Here is a big idea for Minnesota: If public employers got out of the business of collecting union dues, they would not be in the middle of this messy legal fight. The Center is asking lawmakers to pass a bill that requires government-sector unions to collect their own fees.

Multiple lawsuits have already been filed on behalf of employees, and employers are consulting their lawyers. The unions argue that union members were not affected at all by the Janus case. And furthermore, that union members are bound by whatever terms the union imposed on them unilaterally for exiting union membership.

That fight will play out in the courts, and state legislatures, across the country for the next several years.

In the meantime, what are teachers and other public employees who want to exercise their right to resign from the union supposed to do?

In Minnesota, public employees should read their union card. (If you did not keep a copy, which is not uncommon, ask for a copy from your local union rep. You may have to ask several times, so be persistent.)

In most cases, the terms for resigning from the union are usually based on the anniversary date of when you signed the card, and/or sometimes on the date of the collective bargaining agreement (usually with Afscme, SEIU, AFL-CIO or MAPE). This means that the date to resign is unique to the individual employee. I will be writing more about this soon.

But for the 66,000 licensed K-12 teachers and 7,400 ESPs (para-professionals, payroll clerks and lunch room helpers) who signed an Education Minnesota union card, there is a very narrow seven-day window to resign that runs between September 24 and September 30.  (Here is a link to the current union card.)

The “opt-out” window is very narrow, but it is appears to be unambiguous: teachers and ESPs have one week to submit their resignation for 2018.

EducatedTeachersMN.com is designed to give teachers and ESPs the information they need to decide for themselves whether to stay in the union or resign. You can sign up for a reminder emails and get help next month writing your letter if you decide to resign from Education Minnesota.

Please forward this to your friends who are teachers or ESPs in our K-12 schools. Ask them to join us at EducatedTeachersMN.com