In late 2012 Michigan passed right-to-work legislation that was supposed to end the practice of forced union membership. One Michigan high school economics teacher’s experience shows that even when the law’s on your side, powerful unions don’t want to give up control—or lucrative membership dues. As’s Mary C. Tillotson reports:

Rob Wiersema teaches high school economics, and he knows the merits of a simple cost-benefit analysis.

Leaving the Michigan Education Association, he surmised, made economic sense. Another professional association he found, offered better benefits at a lower cost. …

“I thought, great, I’m out,” Wiersema said. “… My contract is up in 2013. I sent letters to the MEA and the local association to say I quit, but it obviously didn’t work.”

He called the union and sent letters asking how to leave, but he got no reply. In June, he sent a “quit letter” to the state and local branches and the school. In July, union dues showed up on his credit card.

“I disputed the charge and said I wasn’t going to pay it,” he said. “Then I heard the MEA was going to go after people who didn’t pay it and have their credit reports take a hit.”

The MEA contends that teachers can leave the union in August only.

Except the MEA doesn’t spend its dues money advertising that fact. Gimmicks like this one are designed to keep unwilling union “members” trapped. That’s why the Mackinac Center for Public Policy developed to help teachers out.

Vincent Vernuccio, director of labor policy for the Mackinac Center, told Tillotson that the reason unions like the MEA limit the opt-out window is, “Money and power…Many members can expect to spend or pay around $1,000, give or take, in dues every year, so for every member they lose, that adds up to a lot of cash.”

Ultimately, Wiersema successfully opted out, but only after spending a lot more than he wanted to. As lawmakers in current and pending right-to-work states consider ways to further protect workers’ rights, they should make opt-out windows year-round, and they should ban the practice of allowing government agencies, such as school districts, to act as taxpayer-subsidized collection agencies for unions by witholding dues payments from teachers paychecks.