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Accounting professor files suit against CMU teachers’ union alleging unlawful seizure of dues

The Union of Teaching Faculty at Central Michigan University is facing state prosecution for allegedly taking out illegal agency fee payments.

Nancy Rusch, professor of accounting, claims UTF did not follow proper requirements while taking out agency fee payments from her.

“They are deducting union dues from my paycheck without any explanation of what the calculation was,” Rusch said. “I should have been able to get a list of the types of clauses that they were going to be charging me with under this agency so I would have some time to be able to review them and make objections.”

Rusch is a fixed-term faculty and falls under the category of public employees who are a part of UTF but not official members.

“There are two types of union members: full members and service-fee payers,” said Matt Serra, executive director of faculty personnel services. “Each have different dues structures, and each has different opportunities and rights within the union.”

Serra declined to comment on the case but referenced Article 5 of the latest contract agreement between CMU and UTF. The document says employees, union member or not, receive union benefits and must pay a service fee to the union. Employees can choose to not be a union member because Michigan does not enforce the Right to Work Law.

According to the document, “In cases where a deduction is made that duplicates a payment that an Employee already has made to the UNION, or where a deduction is not in conformity with the provisions of the UNION Constitution or Bylaws, refunds to the Employee will be made by the UNION.”

According to UTF’s website, official union members are eligible to vote in elections, on referenda and to ratify collective agreements.

“UTF members have a voice in deciding the union’s annual plans, provide input on how we proceed as an organization, and can authorize collective work actions,” the website reads. “As a member, you can help guide UTF by participating on committees—such as bargaining and organizing—and can also serve as a steward or hold office in UTF. Non-members have none of these rights.”

Rusch said she received no information regarding what the dues were for. According to UTF’s website, dues are used to “rent office space, hire staff, print newsletters and contribute to our affiliate organizations to gain support, training and guidance in negotiations and other activities.”

“Their contract says they have deducted the wrong amount from my paycheck, and I have not been able to get an explanation about that from the union either,” Rusch said. “They’re aware of this lawsuit going on and they respond to see my attorney.”

The hearing for this case was originally scheduled for June 27, but based on requests from the union’s attorney the hearing has been postponed. A date has not been set yet, but Rusch said her attorney predicts August.

Rusch filed her charge with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission against UTF. She is being represented by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

UTF President Mark Shelton released a statement Tuesday saying “We take our obligations very seriously and are working diligently to uphold them. We communicated a proposed resolution of this matter to Prof. Rusch’s attorney some time ago, and we await a response.”

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