LANSING (WWJ)– The House Education Committee met in Lansing on Wednesday to discuss a new proposal that would impose penalties for teachers who strike.
Among other things, the new legislation would suspend the teaching certificate of any teacher who goes on strike.
Teacher strikes are already illegal in Michigan, but State Representative Bill Rogers of Brighton said the current law is not enforced and does not go far enough.
“We propose to decertify any member that has decided to go forth with an illegal activity,” Rogers said.
State Representative Paul Scott of Grand Blanc, who is chairing one of the committees holding a hearing on the bills, explained the penalties for striking teachers.
“With the two bill package, one would decertify a striking teacher for a minimum of two years, and the other would decertify the local collective bargaining unit that is organizing and carrying out the strike,” Scott said.
That means a teacher who was on strike would potentially lose their teaching certificate for two years.
It is something that does not sit right with Doug Pratt, Director of Communications at Michigan Education Association, who said the measure goes too far and unnecessarily punishes teachers.
“It really is a step too far. I mean, suspending the teaching certificate of teachers who participate in the strike is a huge infringement of their ability to work and earn a living,” Pratt said. “These aren’t decisions that are made idly. You know, public school employees are dedicated to their students.”
Pratt thinks given the position teachers are in, they owe it to their communities to stick up for what is right.
“School employees are going to stand up for what is right for their students and for their schools and for their community. And if that means them taking a stand, then that’s what it means,” Pratt said. “But, it is illegal and it is something that already, there are severe penalties for, and we don;t believe they need to be made any worse.”
According to Pratt, the new law is not needed because there have been very few teacher strikes in Michigan in the last 15 years.
State Representative Lisa Brown is a West Bloomfield Democrat who doesn’t like the law under debate.
“Why is there not that flexibility? Why are we dictating that it’s either a two-year suspension, or just a complete revocation of somebody’s license? I think those are kind of harsh,” she said.
Representative Paul Scott, a Grand Blanc Republican, disagrees.
“To have them going out on strike, and the spectacle that goes along with that, and all the lessons that the child would derive from seeing that, and the questions that they would have for their parents at home… I find that an unacceptable situation,” Scott said.
The House Education Committee adjourned Wednesday morning without taking a vote.