Many current contracts between Michigan's school districts and teacher unions fail to protect the constitutional rights of teachers as expressed in a number of decisions by various courts, including the U. S. Supreme Court. School boards that fail to consider the legal requirements placed upon them by these court decisions can leave themselves exposed to employee lawsuits and other liabilities, draining more funds away from their mission of educating children.

For example, over two dozen current collective bargaining agreements do not notify teachers of their basic right to refuse union membership and to instead pay only an "agency service fee" to cover the costs of collective bargaining.

Staying informed about legislative and legal requirements can be a tedious and time-consuming chore, but school boards have an obligation to themselves, the taxpayers they represent, and their employees to negotiate contracts that conform to the law and respect the constitutional rights of everyone involved.

Following are seven court decisions that school boards must consider when negotiating collective bargaining agreements with unions. Most of these decisions involve suits brought by objecting Michigan workers, but those that do not are still applicable to public school collective bargaining in this state. The message is clear: School districts must uphold the rights of their employees in any contractual agreement.