An appeals court has affirmed a ruling in regard to a local bus driver’s complaint alleging a violation of Michigan’s right-to-work law.

The driver, Pauline Beutler of Howell, was formerly employed by the Livingston Educational Service Agency. Beutler alleged that her former union, Teamsters Local 214, denied her statutory right and ability to opt out of paying her dues until a union designated opt-out period. Beutler made the request in September of 2013 following implementation of Michigan’s Right to Work law, which made the payment of union dues voluntary for private-sector unions and most public-sector unions.

In December 2015, the Michigan Employment Relations Commission ruled that an unfair labor practice was not found. It determined Beutler’s resignation letter was effective to end her union membership and the union had not acted to restrict the resignation or prevent it from being effective. The MERC found that Beutler’s dues obligation was not necessarily tied to her membership in the union because she entered into a dues deduction agreement that obligated her to pay dues to the union, without regard to her union membership.

In 2013, Beutler entered into a new collective bargaining agreement that took into consideration the Right to Work legislation. It was noted Beutler signed a separate independent dues deduction contract that did not allow her to revoke her financial obligation at that time, and she was obligated to continue paying union dues until the next resignation window.

Buetler appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals, which issued an opinion this week affirming the MERC decision. (JM)