Unions look to alter contracts before Right to Work is in effect - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Unions look to alter contracts before Right to Work is in effect

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(02/05/13) - Teachers unions across the state are stepping up efforts to make changes to their current contracts before the controversial Right to Work law takes effect.

But some groups say they're taking that effort too far.

"It's not a circumvention of the law, we are following the law, but at the same time trying to protect ourselves," said Michigan Education Association President Steve Cook.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland disagrees.

"The teachers unions are attempting to get around the Right to Work law by putting in what are known as security agreements, meaning dues have to be paid before effective date of the law. So instead of the typical three years of a collective bargaining agreement, they're looking at doing them for nine or 10 years," said Pat Wright of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Those provisions, called 'agency shop protections', would lock non-union members into paying their dues long after the Right to Work law is in effect.

"The rub here is the idea that we now have with Right to Work free loaders that can come in receive the negotiated salary, receive the protections the contract offers with respect to grievances and arbitration and not have to pay a single penny for any of that," Cook said.

The MEA said the Taylor School District in Wayne County has an agreement with its school board for a side bar agreement. "It's important to note the side fair share contracts are not letters of agreement, these are actual ratifications."

"It's an extraordinary move, but obviously the unions feel very strongly they don't like the right to work laws," Wright said.

We have confirmed at least one other Genesee County school district also looking to revisit their contract as well.

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