Once again, the Republicans of Michigan are making national headlines for their bold new policy initiatives. Today, it’s House bill 4465, sponsored by Bill Rogers of Brighton. If passed, it would, among other things, punish striking teachers by stripping them of their credentials for two years, making it impossible for them to work as educators in the state of Michigan. The following assessment of the legislation comes from the Michigan Education Association:
A proposal supposedly intended to deter teachers from illegally striking would now strip them of their ability to teach for two years – or for life – and would kick out the employee’s union for five years.
The penalties would apply even if no strike actually occurred, so long as it was determined that a strike was in the planning stages. The legislation states that neither a union member nor a union could “solicit or encourage any other person to strike” or “conspire with any other person to cause a strike.”
Yup, you read that right. You could lose your job for two years, or for life, even if you don’t actually strike… All you have to do is consider striking. Here’s more.
The House Education Committee took testimony today on House Bills 4465 and 4466. A vote could come as early next week. MEA vigorously opposes these bills that seek to further silence the voices of school employees.
The committee listened to testimony from several people, including Reps. Paul Scott, R-Grand Blanc, and Bill Rogers, R-Brighton, sponsors of the bills.
Saying striking teachers pose a “spectacle,” Scott said he backed harsh penalties because educators are “valuable.”
“I think a teacher in a child’s classroom is absolutely vital,” Scott said.
Democrats on the panel questioned why the bills single out teachers and asked why current law – which makes strikes illegal and allows penalties – is insufficient.
“We’re picking on teachers,” said Rep. Douglas Geiss, D-Taylor. “The next step is to take teachers out back and shoot them.”
Among other things, the bills would:
• Require non-tenured teachers who strike to be fired immediately.
• Suspend the teaching certificate of tenured teachers for at least two years or permanently revoke the certificate.
• Consolidate cases so that all employees alleged to have participated in a strike would be judged together; the time period for these cases would be greatly collapsed.
• The union representing the employees on strike would be decertified for five years. The state would order a new election with a different union. These penalties would apply even if no actual strike occurred, but if a union or its representative was found to “solicit or encourage any other person to strike” or to “conspire with any other person to cause a strike.”
Wayne-Westland Community Schools Superintendent Gregory Baracy testified about a work stoppage in his district in 2008. It was the last major job action in a public school in Michigan.
He disputed media reports and teacher complaints at the time about large class sizes as the reason for the teachers’ action. He criticized union members and leaders who were involved. Baracy tried to dismiss the fact that an administrative law judge found the district had violated its duty to bargain in good faith and had ordered the district to “cease and desist” from refusing to do so and from failing to provide relevant information to the union, a point mentioned by Rep. Lisa Brown, D-West Bloomfield.
It was repeatedly noted during the hearing that teacher strikes are already illegal – and rare…
Way to go, Michigan!