By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON — A former Greenwood High School Spanish teacher has reached a settlement with a local teachers union she claims illegally pulled union dues from her paycheck.
Amy Anaya, who taught at Greenwood during the 2011-12 school year, will receive an undisclosed lump sum payment as a “full and complete settlement” of her Prohibited Practice complaint.
“The parties acknowledge that the purpose of the settlement payment is to resolve all disputed claims asserted by Anaya involving the (Greenwood Education) Association” and the Greenwood School District, the agreement states. In accepting the terms, Anaya releases the union and the district from further obligations or liabilities, and no one in the case admits any wrongdoing.
But the teacher’s legal counsel, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which took Anaya’s case for free, is claiming victory in the battle against forced unionism.
“Teacher union bosses and school officials ignored state law and U.S. Supreme Court precedent to illegally coerce this teacher into full dues paying union ranks against her will,” Mark Mix, president of National Right to Work said in a news release.
Mix said the case underscores the importance of Act 10, Wisconsin’s controversial collective bargaining reform law. The act, led by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, strips collective bargaining for most public employees in the state, and allows public employees to opt out of union membership and requisite dues.
Anaya had sought $750, the full cost of the union dues, plus interest. She also demanded the union post signs around the school alerting employees of their rights. That demand does not appear to have been met through the settlement.
Neither Anaya nor a representative for the union could be reached for comment on Friday.
The teacher, hired in the summer of 2011, contested the mandatory membership and dues, but was charged $31.34 per paycheck, full union dues from Sept. 9 until she resigned her teaching position at the end of the school year, according to the complaint Anaya filed last fall.
In the complaint, Anaya claimed the union never told her she didn’t have to join the GEA, that she could object to paying full dues, and that she could pay reduced fees limited to bargaining costs, under the federal Hudson Notice, a 1986 case involving the Chicago Teachers Union. The complaint alleged the union violated law when it “breached its duty of fair representation and coerced and/or intimidated complainant in the enjoyment of her legal rights.”
In September, Anaya told Wisconsin Reporter a union representative demanded that Anaya had to join the union and pay dues.
Jennifer Vogler, administrator of the Greenwood School District, in September said Anaya’s contention was not correct.
Greenwood, like several other school districts, extended its contract with their teachers union before Act 10 went into effect, allowable under law. She provided Wisconsin Reporter a copy of the contract, signed June 21, and in effect between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012.
The administrator said because the contract was extended, and because it did not include the provisions of Act 10, the district’s hands were tied. It had to, based on the labor agreement, automatically deduct dues from Anaya’s paycheck.
“We do not feel there is any merit to this complaint. We do not think anything was done unlawfully,” Vogler said at the time. She described Anaya as an “excellent” educator.
The Right to Work Foundation’s contention was that the extended contract should have fallen under Act 10 because it was implemented after the law went into effect.
Reached for comment Friday, Vogler declined to comment, saying payment was all conducted through the teachers union. She reiterated that Anaya, who is teaching in another Wisconsin school district, “did a fabulous job for us while she was here.”
In her interview with Wisconsin Reporter last fall, Anaya said she didn’t understand the mechanisms of Act 10, or the timing of the school district’s extended contract.
“All I know is that when I got hired I made it clear that I didn’t want to be in a union and pay all of that money where I don’t know where the benefits are going,” she said.
Contact M.D. Kittle at [email protected]