The president of the Michigan Education Association, Iris Salters, said Thursday that a letter she sent out asking members to give the MEA the authority to initiate a “job action” was not calling for a strike. The letter states that on March 11, the MEA board of directors voted unanimously in favor of several actions the MEA would be taking to “ratchet up our efforts” around the “ongoing legislative crisis.”
The letter from Salters goes on to state: “Let me be clear on what this vote means. It authorizes MEA to engage in significant activities — up to and including a work stoppage — that will increase the pressure on our legislators.”
“The most pressing of these is the following vote that needs to be taken by each of your locals,” the letter read.
The letter stated that the ballot language for this vote would read as follows: “Do you give MEA the authority to initiate crisis activities up to and including job action?”
Salters said the letter was not a call for a strike but “an authorization of activities.”
When asked what activities, Salters said, “That is for the board and my members to decide.”
Would it include a strike?
“I have no idea,” Salters said. “That’s all I am going to say on it.”
“It sounds to me like they might be prepping for an illegal strike,” said Patrick Wright, senior legal analyst at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “To the extent ‘job action’ is a euphemism for strikes, strikes and ‘sick-outs’ are illegal under Michigan law.”
“‘Up to and including a work stoppage’? That sounds like they are considering a strike to me,” said Paul Kersey, labor policy director at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “It's hard to imagine what else they could be referring to.”
The Michigan Employment Relations Commission is responsible for determining if a strike takes place. If teachers are found to have participated in an illegal strike, state law states they would lose pay for the day and the local union would be fined $5,000.