Senate GOP seek tougher teacher anti-strike bills

LANSING — Senate Republicans introduced legislation Thursday to toughen Michigan’s anti-strike laws in the wake of teacher sick-outs that have prompted the closing of Detroit Public Schools buildings.

The bills follow the filing of a lawsuit Wednesday by DPS seeking an injunction against two dozen DPS teachers and their union to stop the sick-outs. All DPS schools were open Thursday after a sick-out shut down most of the district Wednesday as President Barack Obama visited the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center.

“When thousands of children are denied valuable instructional time and their parents are left scrambling to ensure they’re cared for because their schools have been shut down by teachers refusing to work, that’s a strike and that’s illegal,” said Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, in announcing the legislation.

The legislation seeks to simplify the process for declaring an illegal strike, allow for joint hearings for teachers accused of illegal striking, impose stricter penalties for those who violate the law, and impose fines for districts that don’t comply with rules to enforce penalties against teachers who illegally strike.

According to DPS’s lawsuit, the cumulative effect of the recent sick-outs has been the loss of at least seven instructional days.

Under current law, if a majority of the Michigan Employment Relations Commission concludes that an individual teacher violated state law prohibiting striking, it can impose fines on the teacher equal to one day’s pay plus $5,000 for each full or partial day of school missed

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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