In 1986, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled in Chicago Teachers Local 1 v Hudson112 that a union must explain to nonunion workers the purposes for any fees it collects from them. Basing its decision on the earlier Abood case, the Court further found that unions must hold disputed fee money in escrow while resolving worker disputes before an impartial decision maker.
The Court considered it essential for unions to provide adequate information about the portion of financial cost charged for collective bargaining to employees who object to fee payments. School boards must therefore establish contractual agreements which minimize any possibility the objecting employee is subsidizing any union political or ideological activities.
Currently, over 400 collective bargaining agreements in Michigan contain language that either explicitly informs teachers of the Hudson decision or alludes to the fact that employees who object to supporting the union's ideological and political agenda have a forum to challenge their fee assessment. Yet the school board in each of these contracts has agreed with the union that the forum should be established and controlled by the union itself-the very organization with which the objecting employee disagrees.
School districts that have agreed to these contractual terms have limited their employees' Hudson rights to have their objections heard by a mutually agreed-upon and impartial decision maker. School boards should not accept any union-established procedure as sufficient protection of employee rights. Those collective bargaining agreements that do conflict with Hudson and other decisions which govern Michigan employment should be renegotiated to ensure that the constitutional rights of employees are protected and the school district is not exposed to liability.