Following the passage of Michigan’s adoption of right-to-work law in 2012, unions were quick to subvert the law’s intent by making it a difficult task for workers to opt out of collective bargaining. The Michigan Education Association (MEA) was one such union, taking great efforts to ensure that teachers would not opt out, most notably by strictly enforcing a little-known policy provision stating that teachers can only resign from the union during the month of August.
Recognizing the need to educate teachers, raise awareness for this provision, and clarify misinformation and disinformation perpetuated by the MEA, Atlas Network partner the Mackinac Center for Public Policy launched its educational campaign “August Opt-Out” in June 2014. The second year of August Opt-Out is currently under way, with the goal of fully informing every school employee who is eligible to leave a union under the right-to-work law about their choices. The website for this campaign, AugustOptOut.org, contains teacher testimonials and a tool allowing visitors to fill out a form and download a resignation letter to send to their union. Last year’s campaign saw 3,200 users register to receive the opt-out letter, with 5,000 individuals eventually resigning from MEA, representing 8 percent of the eligible teachers.
This year, even more teachers have become eligible after expiration of contracts, and new teachers have immediate right-to-work options. The efforts of the Mackinac Center, along with the pioneering teachers from last year’s opt-out campaign, have paved the way for even more teachers to resign from union membership and exercise their right-to-work liberties. The August Opt-Out campaign is ongoing, and the Mackinac Center hopes to see results as successful as last year’s.