Massachusetts Lawmakers Pass Measure that Saves Marine's Job

Ret. Maj. Stephen Godin says he could be fired from his ROTC teaching job for refusing to pay union dues.

Ret. Maj. Stephen Godin says he could be fired from his ROTC teaching job for refusing to pay union dues.  (Boston Herald)

Massachusetts lawmakers passed an amendment on Monday expected to save the job of a public high school ROTC instructor who refused to pay teachers union fees. 

State senator Richard R. Tisei introduced legislation last week on behalf of Maj. Stephen L. Godin, a retired Marine and ROTC instructor who was told he'd get the ax if he didn't chalk up a $500 teachers union "agency fee." 

Godin, a senior naval science instructor at the Naval Junior ROTC at North High in Worcester, said he receives medical and dental benefits and half his salary from the military and refused to join the union or pay it's "agency fee," which is assessed to offset the union's collective bargaining costs. 

On Monday, Tisei, who is also running for lieutenant governor on the Republican ticket, reintroduced the bill as an amendment to a supplement bill that was passed by the Massachusetts Senate and House. The language added to the bill exempts public school junior ROTC teachers across the state from having to pay union fees. It is now headed to Gov. Deval Patrick's office for signature. He has 10 days to sign it. 

“The governor looks forward to reviewing this legislation. As he has said, he wants the involved parties to find a solution that makes sense for everyone and assures that the students will continue to benefit from Maj. Godin's experience and leadership,” said Gov. Patrick's press secretary, Juan Martinez, in an e-mail statement to 

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Patrick, a Democrat is running for re-election against Republican Charlie Baker, whose running mate is Tisei. 

“This is a victory for Major Stephen Godin and it’s my hope that Governor Patrick immediately signs this legislation protecting public servants from unjust labor harassment," Baker said in a written statement released by the Baker-Tisei campaign. "It’s really a shame that Major Godin’s situation even rose to such a level and goes to show how far out of touch Beacon Hill really is.” 

Godin has told that he has been teaching in Worcester for 15 years without having to join the teacher's union or pay the agency fee. But last month he said he received a letter from school officials telling him he'll lose his job if he doesn't pay up by Tuesday.

"I just want to save my job here," the 58-year-old father of two told "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.

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 Tuesday 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, 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.