February 10, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Lansing Mich – A bill that would make it easier to punish teachers’ sickouts advanced to the state Senate floor Feb. 2, when the Education Committee approved it by a 4–1 vote.
The measure would require the state Employment Relations Commission to hold hearings within two days on whether a teacher calling in sick has taken part in a strike, and permit group trials of teachers. Unions found guilty of participating would be fined $5,000 a day and barred from bargaining for five years. “Strikes are illegal in Michigan and they have been,” bill sponsor Sen. Phil Pavlov said, referring to Detroit teachers who called in sick en masse to protest dangerous conditions in the city’s schools. “This isn't about buildings.” American Federation of Teachers-Michigan President David Hecker called the bill “a complete violation of due process,” and showed the committee blown-up photos of a dead rat and a roof leak in two Detroit schools. “They want to destroy unions, plain and simple,” said Ivy Bailey, interim president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers. “The thing that really infuriates me is it’s always when Detroit teachers speak up.” Read more