Update, Monday, March 28, 2011 -----
Strikes have been illegal for educators in Michigan since 1947, said Rep. Paul Scott as he sat down with NBC25 Monday morning.
The topic, his recently proposed bill aimed at preventing teachers from going on strike.
Teachers should be in the classroom. A strike is bad for students, said Scott.
The Grand Blanc Republican says a recent letter from the Michigan Education Association to members has many speculating the union is considering a strike for the last two months of the school year. It asked them to save up two months wages, and to vote by April 14th on whether they approve of a work stoppage.
It has been illegal. My proposal simply gives a law that already exists, teeth.
Those teeth would have biting consequences for both the Michigan Education Association and teachers by doing three things.
1. It would fine the union $5,000 per teacher, per day of a strike.
2. It would fine teachers a day TMs wages for every day they went on strike.
3. Teachers who went on strike would risk having their teaching license suspended for as long as two years.
It is just another way to attack the middle class, to attack teachers, and to attack public education, said Ric Hogerheide from the MEA.
The UniServ Director for the MEA 10-D Office says such a change in law wouldn TMt just hurt teachers, it would hurt students.
The conditions teachers have to work in, are the conditions students have to learn in.
He says if teachers were to go on strike they would not only be fighting for fair wages and benefits, they would be fighting excessively large class sizes.
We have message, after message, after message (from teachers). We want small class sizes, said Hogerheide.
He says teachers are concerned Governor Rick Snyder TMs proposed budget cuts will force districts to put as many as forty to seventy students in one class.
Teachers also say when you look at history they gave up the right to strike in exchange for collective bargaining rights.
The MEA fears the governor TMs propose cuts will leave many districts broke. Under a newly passed law, the governor will be able to appoint an emergency financial manager to struggling districts. That EFM will be able to throw out deals made in collective bargaining. Some teachers say if their right to meaningful collective bargaining is being taken away, perhaps they should have the ability to go on strike.
Representative Paul Scott says teachers need to understand, a strike won TMt improve the state TMs bleak budget situation.
The contracts cannot be honored if there is no money, said Scott.
Original Story, Sunday, March 27, 2011----
Right now under Michigan law, it is illegal for public school teachers to strike, but some say that hasn TMt stopped the Michigan Education Association from, in essence, asking teachers if they want to strike.
In a letter sent to MEA members, Union President Iris Salters told teachers they needed to take action to prepare for a response to the state TMs attack on school employees.
She advised them to save up enough to cover their expenses for two months.
The MEA also asked local chapters to vote on whether to give the union the power to call for crisis activities such as a work stoppage. Such actions would be taken to protest Governor Rick Snyder TMs plan to cut public school funding by at least $470 per student.
"I trust our teachers will make the right decision by voting against engaging in illegal strikes suggested by Ms. Salters, said House Education Committee chair Paul Scott, a Grand Blanc Republican in a statement. Teachers now have the opportunity to send a clear message to MEA leadership they are not political pawns, and show the people of Michigan that teachers are dedicated to classrooms, not union leaders."
Rep. Scott introduced legislation last week that will make it easier to enforce the state TMs ban on teacher strikes.
House Bill 4466 would fine the M.E.A. $5,000 for each teacher who goes on strike for even part of a day. It would make teachers pay a day TMs wages for every day they strike. Teachers would also risk having their license suspended for up to two years if they took went on strike.
This bill not only enforces current law, but protects teachers from political forces at the top of the M.E.A. said Rep. Scott in a press release.
NBC25 wants to know how you feel about this. Do you think teachers should be able to strike in protest of state cuts to education? Do you think they deserve to be punished if they decide to strike? Vote in our poll, and leave your comments below.