You strike, you lose

Fireworks could fly tomorrow a the House committee on Education meeting at 9 a.m. On the agenda is a bill that proposes stripping teachers of their license if they participate in a strike.

The bill, HB 4465, says: “within 10 days after the inception of the strike or after receiving information that the person has engaged or participated in a strike, notify the person that his or her teaching certificate may be suspended for a period of at least two years, or revoked …”

The teacher would have a right to a hearing. Within 120 days, “If the superintendent of public instruction determines as a result of the hearing that the person has engaged or participated in a strike in violation of Section 2 of the 1947 PA 336, MCL 423.202, the superintendent of public instruction shall suspend the person’s teaching certificate for at least 2 years and may permanently revoke the person’s teaching certificate, depending on his or her determination as to the severity of the offense.”

Employment lawyer Robert M. Vercruysse, of Bingham Farms-based Vercruysse, Murray & Calzone PC said that if the bill can get passed, it certainly would “give some teeth to the Public Employment Relations Act,” which prohibits public employees from striking.

But he has doubts that the bill is going anywhere, due to the teachers’ strong union lobby.

He said that the bill doesn’t go too far, proposing stripping a teacher of his or her license, at least not from the perspective of what’s allowed by law and the Constitution and by public employee contracts.

“One can debate the wisdom of it, but it would be nice from the employers’ perspective for the Act to have some real teeth,” he said.

But, determining whether someone has engaged in a strike is not always easy. Certainly, Vercruysse said, it’s pretty cut and dried when there are workers outside their workplace, carrying picket signs. But what about “sick-outs” or work slow-downs?

That’s quite another story.

“The ‘blue flu’ is a real burden to prove,” he said. And because that’s the mostly likely type of strike, at least if teachers went the way of the Detroit transportation workers’ sick-out last week, the bill’s usefulness might not be quite so clear.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s