MEA President to Local TV: Prop 2 “Would Overturn” Law that Prevents Union from Vetoing Fines for Chicago-Style Teacher Strikes
Statement follows Leak of MEA Memo Admitting Parents are being Misled about Deceptive Ballot Proposal’s Far-Reaching Effects.
Lansing, MI, September 13, 2012— Chicago-style teacher strikes could be heading to local Michigan school districts if union leaders behind the deceptive Proposal 2 successfully hijack Michigan’s constitution this November. According to Steven Cook, the President of the state’s largest teachers union, the Michigan Education Association (MEA), Proposal 2 “would overturn” a 1994 law created to prevent teachers unions from bullying local school districts at the bargaining table into ignoring, vetoing or erasing legal fines and penalties incurred as a result of an illegal teacher strike.
While teacher strikes are technically “illegal” in Michigan, Michigan’s Public Employee Relations Act (PERA) establishes the only legal penalty for teachers who walk out on their classrooms; a fine equal to one day’s pay for each school day spent on strike.
As a response to frequent illegal teacher strikes in Michigan districts where union officials successfully forced local districts to avoid imposing legal fines and penalties, the Michigan legislature enacted Public Act 112 in 1994, which amended PERA to prohibit union bosses from removing these penalties for striking teachers during labor negotiations.
Responding to a question from Lansing reporter Fay Li about Proposal 2’s effect on Public Act 112 of 1994, Cook admitted: “At any point you find the legislature where they have stepped in and said ‘you can no longer discuss these issues at the bargaining table,’ (Proposal 2) would overturn that.”
Cook’s admission comes shortly after the leak of an internal memo from the MEA’s legal department claiming that passage of Proposal 2 would overturn Public Act 112 and change PERA, paving the way for the return of Chicago-style teacher strikes in Michigan school districts.
Teachers in Chicago on Monday walked out of their classrooms after rejecting a 16 percent pay increase, outraging parents and kicking nearly 400,000 students out of their schools and onto the streets.
According to the MEA’s leaked internal legal memo (see attachment), upon passage of Proposal 2: “The prohibited bargaining topics created by 1994 PA 112 and included in Section 15(3) of PERA would NO LONGER exist (including)… Any compensation or additional work assignment intended to reimburse an employee for or to allow an employee to recover any monetary penalty imposed under PERA.”
“The President of the MEA has now admitted publicly what his legal department has been bragging about for months behind closed doors, that this deceptive proposal will give unions veto power over strike penalties,” said Nick De Leeuw, spokesman for Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution. “Our kids deserve teachers in the classroom, not on the picket line, but the MEA’s President and internal legal documents admit that is exactly the kind of Chicago-style crisis Proposal 2 could unleash in Michigan.”
Cook’s statement can be viewed online at http://bit.ly/QGUbVY.