Stiffer penalties for striking teachers

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Michigan teachers could lose certification for two years if they take part in a strike, under legislation recently introduced in the state House, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

Bills have been submitted by state Reps. Bill Rogers, R-Howell, and Jimmy Womack, D-Detroit, to stiffen the 1994 law that makes teacher strikes illegal, The Press reported.

Public Act 112 allows striking teachers to be fined one day's pay for each day they refuse to work, according to the report. House Bill 5050, sponsored by Rogers, would fine the labor union that called the strike $5,000 and streamline the procedure for conducting hearings and assessing daily fines against individual teachers. House Bill 5051, sponsored by Womack, calls for loss of certification for two years.

An MEA representative told The Press that the measures are "uncalled for."

"There have only been three strikes in the last 15 years, two of them in Detroit," said Doug Pratt, MEA communications director. "Strikes are illegal, and they happen only when one of the sides is bargaining in bad faith."

Grand Rapids Public Schools teachers are entering their third year without a new contract, according to The Press, while teachers in Wayne-Westland walked off the job for four days last fall during contract negotiations.

Womack is a former Detroit Public Schools school board member.

The Grand Rapids Press, "Proposed bills tell teachers one strike, they're out," June 18, 2009

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Make unions accountable for illegal strikes," Dec. 22, 2008