MEA President Iris SALTERS is asking the teacher unions' 1,100 locals to vote on whether it should engage in teacher strikes to put pressure on lawmakers who are considering a proposed $470-per-pupil cut to K-12 education for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012.
Acting with the support of the MEA's 80-member Board of Directors, Salter said in a letter to its locals that teachers are "under assault in Lansing" and it must "take action accordingly." Teacher strikes are illegal in Michigan.
"Let me be clear on what this vote means," Salters wrote. "It authorizes MEA to engage in significant activities -- up to and including a work stoppage."
They are asking locals to vote between March 14 and April 14 on whether to give MEA the authority to initiative crisis activities up to and including job action.
MEA Spokesman Doug PRATT said the votes are what "we have to do internally to ratchet up efforts around the "ongoing legislative crisis."
"This is our top governance across the state saying our members are telling us that we've had enough," Pratt said.
Circulation of the letter drew harsh responses from House Education Committee Chair Paul SCOTT (R-Grand Blanc), who said he was "shocked and appalled " by statements from an "out-of-touch" MEA executive who, last week, compared public school employees to "slaves."
"This type of heavy handed, Hoffa-esque rhetoric might have worked in the 60s, but not today," he said. "Striking is illegal. Period. Why Ms. Salters is seeking authority to engage in illegal activities is concerning."
Let's take a look at what the unions are asking of their members. Union leaders want to illegally strike so that union members can loose freedom of choice on joining a union and forced union dues, they want to vote on a strike that would force the all union members to walk the picket line regardless of whether or not they believe in the strike. That doesn't sound very American to me.
The union leaders are saying that Michigan tax payers will pay one way or another. They are telling teachers that Michigan can't fire all the teachers. This may be true, but we can get ride of the bad teachers in bad schools. We could turn schools into charter schools one at a time.
How about parent suing the teachers union for withholding an education from their children? Who cares if we win or if it's even realistic, it will have an effect.
I will feel sorry for the teachers that are living on the $20 a day the union pays them to strike. It doesn't seem like a lot of money when the unions have billions. I hope those teachers banked their money. We all know conservative teachers in the union. They will be forced to strike for their pittance from the union coffers. Families will go bankrupt if the teachers unions strike. But they knew the risks of joining a union. Conservative teachers need to speak up now and try to stop an illegal strike. Tax payers are broke and businesses are dieing. We can't afford to lose the profitable business like we have in the past with taxes that take profit. A strike right now would be as bad an idea as the MEA could have.
We need to change the way we educate our children. Giving into the union demands has gotten us worse results. It's time we put the children first for a change.
For all the teachers working to stop a vote for a strike, I thank you. No one can afford a strike right now. If the unions keep going for an all or nothing they will get nothing. We also can't afford the unions demands, so it's time we the taxpayers call the shots.