MEA to Members: Save Money for Layoffs, Job Action

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Education Association is advising members to save money as a hedge against future layoffs or a possible job action, according to the Detroit Free Press, but some lawmakers say that amounts to planning an illegal strike.

In a letter to union members, the MEA advised on holding off on major purchases, the Free Press reported. Union spokesman Doug Pratt said that was a reference not only to a possible job action, but to prepare for layoffs in the case of state funding cuts.

The MEA already has asked local units to vote by April 15 on authorizing “crisis activities” up to and including a work stoppage, according to the Free Press. Pratt said the MEA will not make those vote tallies public, the Free Press reported.

“What a way to ruin the end of someone's high school career,” Don Wotruba, of the Michigan Association of School Boards, told the Free Press, referring to the potential for an illegal strike to disrupt final exams and high school graduation.

House Speaker Jase Bolger criticized union leaders in a statement, noting that while teachers could suffer penalties for going on strike, union leaders would not, the Free Press reported.

Lawmakers have recently introduced a bill to fine the authorizing union in the event of teacher strikes.

Detroit Free Press, “MEA's advice seen by some as preparation for strike,” March 26, 2011

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “The MEA President Lays on the Guilt Trip: How Will Michigan Respond?” April 28, 2010