Measure to remove teacher strike prohibitions taken out of 'Right to Work' bill

Belleville High School closed Tuesday over threat called into 911
Posted at 6:17 PM, Mar 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-09 21:20:27-05

Correction: A previous version of this story mistakenly said the bill passed lifted prohibitions on teacher strikes. A draft contained that but was amended.

Lawmakers on Wednesday evening in the Michigan House debated removing some prohibitions on teacher strikes.

The President of the Detroit Federation of Teachers says it is needed, remember 2016.

Since they couldn’t legally strike, back in 2016 teachers decided to call in sick en masse in the Detroit Public Schools to protest how the state had seized control with emergency management and the conditions that followed. So many teachers called in that most schools closed.

As teachers marched during the protest, some also let WXYZ inside Spain Elementary Middle School. They showed us how ceiling tiles had fallen in classrooms, the roof was leaking in the gym, there was black colored mold or mildew covering the floors so warped it looked like a wave.

“Warped floors. Ceilings where it was just raining inside the building,” said Lakia Wilson-Lumpkins.

Wilson-Lumpkins, back in 2016, worked as a counselor at Spain Elementary Middle and helped expose the dangerous code-violating conditions. She now is President of the Detroit Federation of Teachers. She says that sick out raising awareness of conditions teachers got legislative support to save the district from bankruptcy and emergency management.

When a bill passed at 8:30 Wednesday night, repealing “Right to Work” she saw it as a win. However, part of the bill she and other union leaders had fought for that would remove some prohibitions on teacher strikes was taken out of the bill at the last minute.

“It is about holding our employer and legislators accountable so we can have good working conditions and our students can have the best learning conditions,” said Wilson-Lumpkins.

“I just question the timing of doing something like this,” said Robert McCann.

McCann says while children are still recovering from pandemic learning loss strikes at schools would harm children.

As K12 Alliance Executive Director he speaks for school districts around the state. He says this could drive up labor costs for schools.

“We know leaner budget times are coming,” said McCann.

Moms WXYZ spoke to outside Spain said the pandemic taught them missing school has an impact and the idea of a teacher strike concerns them.

“What do you say to a parent who says I don’t want teachers to have the right to strike because I don’t want school interrupted for my kids?” WXYZ asked Wilson-Lumpkins.

“The issue is when we are not getting our needs met. And our needs are children’s needs,” she said.