A Port Huron Public Schools teacher says the local teachers union violated its own bylaws when it recently conducted a vote on whether to authorize the Michigan Education Association to start crisis actions, including work stoppages. Tim Keller, who teaches adult education at the Harrison Center in Port Huron, said teachers filled out questionnaires at the April 12 meeting regarding what they would be willing to do. He said the ballots were taken away without counting them and teachers still don’t know the final tally.
A teachers strike is illegal in Michigan.
Kathleen Trongo, the Michigan Education Association’s Uniserv director for Port Huron, said all the union bylaws were followed. She said the ballots were counted on site and that union members will get a tally once the election is certified.
“We did follow our bylaws,” Trongo said.
Schools from around the state were voting on giving the state teachers union the ability to call for a work stoppage. The union has been a vocal critic of Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed budget cuts to schools.
Keller said teachers received an email the day after the vote which stated that the “membership showed strong resolve in its support of the MEA Board of Directors.”
Keller said Port Huron Education Association President Chad Mannlein told him that the vote wasn’t about going on strike but was about the union finding out “who was with us” as they organize coalitions with other groups. Mannlein couldn’t be reached for comment.
Trungo said the questionnaires were voluntary and would not be shared with anyone outside the teachers union.
The questionnaire asked who would be willing to picket and make signs and do other tasks, Keller said.
“What they wanted to do is get a contact list of all the people who are willing to take radical measures,” Keller said.