Friday, March 18, 2011

Michigan's Teachers Mulling A Strike?

By Liam Martin

LANSING -- With another potential education cut looming, teachers are considering desperate measures.

"These attacks and these cuts will be devastating to children, and to schools," said Iris Salters, president of the Michigan Education Association, the state's largest teachers' union.

It sent out a letter this week to its members, bashing Governor Snyder's plan to slash at least $470 per pupil -- and asking for the authority to call a strike, if that cut goes through.

"The legislation being considered on a daily basis at the Capitol (emergency managers, step freezes, mandatory privatization, mandatory health insurance payments, budget cuts, etc.) are outright attacks on our students, our members, our communities and our future," the letter reads.

It asks members to vote at their local MEA chapters between now and April 14 on whether or not to give the union the "authority to initiate crisis activities up to and including job action."

"[The Republicans] are interested in taking our rights," Salters told News 10 on Friday. "As well as seeing that the next generation does not have the preparation that it needs."

Salters added that a strike is seen as a last resort and remains highly unlikely, even if it gets the go-ahead from members.

"It is illegal for teachers to strike in the state of Michigan," said Ari Adler, spokesman for state House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, said Friday.

Bolger has harshly criticized the threat of job action by the union, noting it's illegal for all public workers in the state to strike.

"The union bosses are prioritizing themselves over the teachers that they're supposed to be representing," Adler said. "And over the students that they're supposed to be teaching."

But MEA officials responded that protecting our children means protecting the funding for their education.

"We are not the responsible for this crisis we are in," Salters said.

And she and the union seem more determined than ever to block more cuts to schools.

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