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School Districts Closed As Teachers Skip Work To Attend Protests

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TAYLOR (WWJ) - School has been canceled in two Michigan school districts as hundreds of teachers are expected to call in sick Tuesday to join right-to-work protests in Lansing.

Taylor Public Schools will be closed down because of the high number of staff that have already called in, apparently to attend the demonstrations. Superintendent Diane Allen told WDIV-TV there won’t be enough teachers to cover classrooms. She said she had heard from a principal about where the teachers were going.

Warren Consolidated Schools will also be closed Tuesday, due to number of teacher absences for the same reason.

“The entire district will be closed just like when we have a snow day,” said Warren Consolidated Superintendent Robert Livernois, in a statement. “Will I understand this is somewhat unusual, my number one priority is student safety and without and adequate number of staff members, we cannot hold school.”

District spokesperson Bob Freehan told WWJ Newsradio 950′s Sandra McNeil he’s lost count of the number of teachers who have called in.

In general, right-to-work laws prohibit requiring unions from collecting fees from non-union employees, which opponents say drains unions of money and weakens their ability to bargain for good wages and benefits. Supporters insist it would boost the economy and job creation.

Union leaders, workers and supporters are protesting passage of the laws, which would make Michigan the nation’s 24th right-to-work state.

Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson last week told WWJ Newsradio 950 he’s not sure his union could survive the passage of right-to-work. Johnson said many teachers could opt out of paying their dues, but the union would still be forced to provide services for them anyway, such as contract negotiations and arbitration.

(Check for more school closings here).

WWJ listeners are weighing in on the sick-out issue on Facebook:

“Good for them!” wrote Denise Spring.

Steven Paquette said it, “beats calling in to play Call of Duty.”

Wrote Bret Roberts,”These Union members should be paying the Taxpayer for the Daycare that some Parents will have to pay for.”

Jim Adams said,”It’s bull**** that they put union above the kids who are their customers.”

(What do you think? Join the conversation here).

State police are beefing up their presence in downtown Lansing ahead of what are expected to be massive protests at the Capitol on Tuesday. Roads have been closed and security will be tight. (More on this here).

WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick said police are planning for the worst, but hoping for the best. “For example, they don’t want what they’ve called a ‘Wisconsin situation’ here, where after demonstrators showed up in Madison there was $400,000 worth of damage to the building,” Skubick said.

Stay with WWJ and CBSDetroit.com for continuing team coverage of the protests on Tuesday.

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