Michigan Teachers Join Union Protests, Thousands of Students Forced To Miss School

Michigan teachers join union protest.

Thousands of Michigan teachers skipped school Tuesday to protest new right-to-work laws that were signed by Gov. Rick Snyder. About 12,500 attended the protest and three were arrested according to the Detroit Free Press.

The walkout caused schools around the state to close, reported Michigan Capitol Confidential, affecting thousands of students.

"We're concerned about the safety and security of the students, so we're treating it as a snow day," Warren School District spokesman Robert Freehan said Monday afternoon.

More: L.A. Port Union Workers Strike For Job Security

The teachers used the day to organize rallies at the state capitol in Lansing opposing the legislation. The right-to-work laws, which apply for both private and public sector workers, make it illegal to require workers to either join a union or pay union dues. The law was approved by a 58-51 vote in the state's Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

The passing of the legislature makes Michigan the 24th state in the country with such laws on the books.

In the eyes of the protesters, the laws will result in unions having less support to fight for their members. Such a view has been embraced by President Obama, who came out against the law Monday during a tour of the Daimler Detroit Diesel plant in Redford, Mich.

"What they're really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money," the president said.

The prospect of weaker unions led many teachers to come out to the protests as they saw their livelihood at stake.

"My dad and mom were union workers. Without the contracts they bargained for, we wouldn't have had food on our table or clothes to wear," Melissa Ann Waters told the Detroit Free Press.

But some school board members in the affected districts were upset by the teachers' decision to skip work.

"I think that political agendas shouldn't take precedence over student learning," Ben Lazarus, a school board member-elect for Warren Consolidated, told Michigan Capitol Confidential.




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Dan Fastenberg

Dan Fastenberg

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Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.

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Corrie

Really jewell.. If your a good worker and they fire you just to be a company man then what an idiot... Good workers are hard to come buy these days... They still keep the bargining rights... It's amazing i have so many rights for other things, drive car or not, join army ,abort my unborn child but not the right to work union free?
Really?

December 15 2012 at 7:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
laedbac1

Every sane working American should support the efforts of any employee and Union that is working to make things better. American employees have been harmed too much for too long by greedy CEO"s and corrupt lieing politicians and their union busting tatics.

December 14 2012 at 6:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jewell800

I used to be one of those people looking at teachers from the outside, until I became a teacher and I teach children with special needs. It's a sin and a shame what I see. Parents who expect us to raise their children. Some parents don't want the responsibility of their children and pass it on to the teacher. Teachers work long hours, some are at school 2-3 hours early and late just to keep up with the paper work and plan to educate the children. We have staff meeting weekly on reading data on how to structure our teaching and how to reach the kids. Teaching is tough, kids are not robots. I have seen parents take their kids out of school for a month just to go on a vacation. When I grew up parents took responsibility to promote education. Now we have a society who wants to blame us for their kids. Parents are the first teacher. I have heard parents tell their children, you don't have to listen to the teacher. One parent rewarded his kid for breaking a teacher's finger. I still love my job, but we have a different type of parenting in the world today and all responsibility it put on the teacher to solve it. We need the unions to get a decent rate of pay. A Right to Work Law is not right for anyone union or non-union. Even if you are an employee who does everything right, you employer can fire you and keep the bad non union employee because maybe he looks more of the part for the company. You can get fired even if you did not violate any company rules. So don't blame this law on Union, blame this on greedy politicians who are focusing again, on a particular group to push their agenda, this law affects everyone and those who are non-union, your nightmare has just begun. New flash teachers pay taxes too. I am proud that the teachers are taking a stand and anyone else that is union. If I am visiting in Michigan, I am supporting their fight.

December 13 2012 at 11:15 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
LA is Best

The teachers are not for the children they're for soaking the taxpayer!!

December 13 2012 at 10:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gidget6368

Like the kids in Detroit especially can afford missing school. These teachers say they are for the kids, they have a strange way of showing it.

December 13 2012 at 9:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Thrift Store

The teachers should have all been labled as no show and quit and then replaced

December 13 2012 at 9:28 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Chrissy Cooper

why should a person be forced to pay union dues if they decide not to join the union? If you as a person want to join the union more power to ya but why force someone else to pay that doesn't want to join

December 13 2012 at 9:15 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Chrissy Cooper's comment
laedbac1

These teachers and other employees need their unions. We support their efforts.

December 14 2012 at 6:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to laedbac1's comment
lildiablo001

that didnt answer Chrissy Coopers question

December 14 2012 at 12:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
joesbillards

This is exactly why ALL public sector unions NEED TO GO TO HE.L.L. There's no teacher's need that is worthy of holding a child's education hostage.

December 13 2012 at 9:08 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
nortw

Union members have always had to fight for fair treatment and fair wages, this is just another page in the history book. It takes a lot more courage to stand up for something you believe in than it does to sit around and complain about things.

December 13 2012 at 8:57 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to nortw's comment
LA is Best

nortw, This is a MOB nothing fair about a MOB! Typical progressive tactics!

December 13 2012 at 10:25 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
MRL1481

Teachers get 12 months salary for 9 months work. And yet they think they're not being paid fairly because they coast on tenure and expected a raise.

December 13 2012 at 8:48 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to MRL1481's comment
jcrews2033

Actually, teachers get paid for the number of contract days, which in Texas is 187. The salary is just DIVIDED up by 12 months so there is a paycheck all year. No one is getting paid for NOT working. In reality, most teachers I know spend MUCH more than the actual contract days working and get no compensation for it. It is because they care about the success of their students and put forth whatever is necessary to help them learn. I, myself, probably work at least ten hours AT school, plus time at home in the evenings, plus weekends, plust summertime to get ready for each new year. So if I averaged out my paycheck by number of hours worked, it certainly wouldn't be much. I have taught 16 years, and my salary has just now reached 40,000; however, I pay nearly $1000 a MONTH for insurance, several hundred for teacher retirement that I will probably never get all back, plus taxes and more. So I am bringing home about $2100 a month. We are evaluated every year and could be non-renewed for a contract the next year or let go if the district has to cut back on positions. The only raise we usually get is if the school district can afford one, which is rare, because the federal state governments created so many "requirements" for schools and students but DON'T FUND THEM. So it comes out of the district's pocket (tax payers).
Maybe you should have done your homework...

December 13 2012 at 9:42 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jcrews2033's comment
LA is Best

jcr, the teachers that called in sick are among to highest paid in the nation...they make more than twice what you make! One more thing the students in Lansing & Detroit are among the least educated! Maybe you should move to Michigan!

December 13 2012 at 10:34 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down
sports2259

The irony I see here is teachers are working individuals as well. What are you willing to do to make sure you are paid fairly....

I find it ironic that people (non-teachers) can say things like, "They get paid 12 months for 9 months of work." Yes teachers do get summers "off" but they have earned it, not to mention that most teachers attend classes of various kinds throughout the summer to make sure they are up to date on current information, attend seminars, teach seminars, summer school, private tutoring...etc.

That being said most parents can't handle their own children for an hour. Imagine teaching 30. Think of it like this. You have to have a plan of the day for 30- 90 individuals every day for 180 days (depending on what grade). This includes making sure they: follow the rules (dress code, IDs on, etc) perform well and contact their parents when they do poorly (30 - 90 individuals remind you), and prepare the presentations and activities to make sure they are successful enough to move on to the next grade or level of education.

Don't judge unless you have walked our path. I've had a "regular" job as non teachers put it, and you probably get paid more for less work and effort. I'm not saying other jobs aren't hard because I know they are but please offer a more complete and educated statement. However a majority of teachers arrive to work early, leave late, work weekends, and do just about anything to make sure students are successful. Your very vague (and misconstrued) comment is part of the reason teachers are undermined and mistreated.

Yes there are bad teachers from time to time, however there are many teachers perform at the best of our ability for people like you and your children.

One thing we teach is credibility of information. Where are your facts? How can you make such a vague comment. Inferences are risky sir/mam.

"Wisdom is knowing when to speak your mind and when to mind your speech."
- Evangel

Best of luck to you.

December 13 2012 at 10:02 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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