Intercepts

A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

Teacher Termination Challenge

Written By: Mike Antonucci - May• 07•09

Judging by my inbox, it appears many of you were unaware that teachers could be fired for not paying their union dues. In fact, this is a common provision in teacher contracts, usually categorized under “association security.” The prompt for all the e-mails was this article in the May issue of The Detroit Teacher. It was written by Detroit Federation of Teachers Executive Vice President Mark O’Keefe:

Seventy Teachers Face Termination

“I can’t remember every employee I hired, but I remember all the ones I fired,” a former boss once told me. Although the union fights to save jobs for teachers, we are in the unfortunate position of having to notify 70 teachers that they may be terminated for nonpayment of union dues.

Paying union dues, or alternatively agency shop fees, is a condition of your employment. Occasionally, the district makes a mistake and fails to withhold the correct amount of dues. When this happens, we send an invoice to the member for the amount of dues owed.

When members do not fulfill their responsibility to pay their dues, we are in an unfortunate position. We have to notify the district that employment will be terminated in 35 days if the delinquent dues are not paid.

As much as we may like to “let it slide,” the union is owed thousands and thousands of dollars, which we need to pay our bills.

We can’t allow some members to pay all their dues while others get a free ride.

So my challenge is this: Find me something else a teacher would have to do that would not only allow a school district to fire him or her in the short span of 35 days, but would require it.

Chronic absenteeism? Striking a child? Drug dealing? Sexual harassment of a fellow teacher? An arrest for first-degree murder?

Evidently due process rights protect a teacher against every accusation but one. The heinous act of failing to pay union dues.

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7 Comments

  1. Darren says:

    How is it that *the union* can fire a teacher? Do those teachers work for the union or for the school district?

  2. [...] In some districts, teachers can be fired for not paying their union dues, Antonucci reminds us. [...]

  3. Mike Antonucci says:

    Darren, the union cannot directly fire the teacher. However, the contract contains a provision that says the district must fire a teacher who fails to pay dues, and has a “hold harmless” clause so the district isn’t liable for such action. A legal dispute would be between the teacher and the union.

  4. Darren says:

    Amazing. My own contract probably has such a provision.

  5. McGehee says:

    So a district that wants to fire a teacher need only “forget” to deduct his dues from his paycheck, and hope the teacher doesn’t pay for them out of his own pocket?

    Liking, liking…

  6. California Girl says:

    Black letters on a white background — Huzzah!!

  7. Detroit Teacher says:

    The ironic part of this whole debacle is that many of the employees never intentionally witheld the dues-the district just stopped deducting them over a short period of time. The union was notified but at the time didn’t bother working on it. Now the union has mega debts, a new building, which members did not approve purchase,and a declining membership.
    So, let’s see, who runs the show?