MEA Members stay, but Judge Rules Opt Out Period Too Restrictive

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The numbers are good for the Michigan Education Association.

95% of its members decided to stay with the union instead of opting out in August.

"We're always in the business of convincing people," said MEA president Steven Cook. "Making it worth members' time and money to become members of the association."

After the state passed the right to work law in 2012, union members could opt out of their contracts without paying a fee.

And Cook says even though he lost members, he thinks they'll start to come back in the next few years for union protection.

"Without association help and involvement they kind of look at it and say my career's worth more to me than just the dues, and I need the protection of the association."

Even though 95% of its members decided to stay, about 5,000 teachers across the state decided to leave the MEA.

And the union is facing push back after a labor judge ruled this week that union members should be able to opt out of their contracts at any time.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy sued the union in March for failing to tell a teacher she could only resign her membership in August.

The center spent this summer sending thousands of flyers and emails to members trying to convince them to leave the union.

"If the MEA continues to go down the path that they're going down, I don't know what's going to happen with their membership," said Vincent Vernuccio of the Mackinac Center. "But, if they start putting teachers and members first ahead of the special interests, then they may stem the tide of the 5,000 teachers that left this year."

August will still be the opt out period until the appeals process plays out.