A Massachusetts state senator has introduced a bill to save the job of a retired U.S. Marine, a public high school junior ROTC instructor who says he’ll get the ax if he doesn’t chalk up a $500 teacher’s union fee.
Maj. Stephen Godin, who says he receives medical and dental benefits and half his salary from the military, has refused to join the union and says he will not pay its "agency fee," which is assessed to offset the union's collective bargaining costs.
Godin, senior naval science instructor at the Naval Junior ROTC Unit at North High School in Worcester, Mass., has been teaching for the Educational Association for Worcester for 15 years without having to join the teacher's union or pay the agency fee. But last month, he says, he received a letter from school officials indicating he will be fired on June 15 if he fails to pay.
"I just want to save my job here," the 58-year-old father of two told FoxNews.com. "I've been doing this for 15 years. Nobody has ever told me to join the union or be terminated."
An official with the Massachusetts Teachers Association said state law requires public employees -- including teachers at public schools -- to join unions as a condition of employment or to pay an agency fee.
State Sen. Richard R. Tisei, who is running for lieutenant governor on the Republican ticket, introduced a bill on Wednesday to exempt public secondary school ROTC instructors in Massachusetts from having to pay teacher’s union dues.
On Thursday, Charlie Baker, the Republican candidate for governor, said in a statement to FoxNews.com:
“It is an outrage that Major Godin, who has served his country and his students over his 14-year teaching career, is having his job threatened by organized labor over his refusal to pay union dues to a union that he doesn’t receive any benefits from. Major Godin is a good guy doing the right thing and I am committed to helping him any way I can.”
Godin, who earns roughly $75,000 a year, said he has asked for arbitration no fewer than five times, but never heard back from the teacher's union. Now, he’s waiting to hear back from the school district as the June 15 deadline nears.
"It's really nothing," Godin said of the $500 fee. "It's the principle of the matter. I think they're trying to extort money from me. They do nothing for me."
Godin says he should be exempt from the law since he receives military benefits, including medical and dental insurance.
"So that's nothing to do with Worcester there," he said. "Neither the union nor the Worcester Public Schools have allowed me to make that argument. It's just the union that wants my money."
Godin, who retired from the Marines in 1994 after logging more than 2,000-plus hours flying F-4 Phantoms and five overseas deployments, said he has not hired an attorney.
"That would cost me money, too," he said.
Several messages seeking comment from officials at Education Association of Worcester and North High School, including Principal Matthew Morse, were not returned.
In a statement to FoxNews.com, Dr. Melinda Boone, superintendent of Worcester Public Schools, said she had not issued "any official position statement" to Godin or the union.
"I've asked our legal counsel to research my responsibility and obligations as superintendent in this matter," Boone said in a statement.