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.
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