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Flint teachers union holds illegal teacher strike

‘Unexpected closure’ as 119 teachers call in sick, district says

Flint Community Schools is shut down Wednesday after more than 100 teachers called in sick.

In Michigan, it is illegal for public employees to willfully skip out on working, even in response to actions by the employer. That includes teachers.

Flint Community Schools broke the news to parents:

All school buildings will be closed today due to 119 United Teachers of Flint, MEA/NEA employees calling in sick today. ... The district certainly does not appreciate how this unexpected school closure will impact our families. While the district understands that this school closure will hurt our scholars more than anyone else, the district hopes that UTF employees will return to work tomorrow, so scholars can be educated tomorrow.

The union acknowledged the action. As it wrote on Facebook: “Actions, or the lack of action, has consequences. Statements don’t create change or resolve problems. Both sides sitting down to resolve them does. When will the district and the board stop talking AT the UTF, and start talking WITH them?”

The district and the teachers union currently have a contract, but were in discussions about a settlement agreement “address several critical issues.” The board of education rejected the union's proposal in January.

Teacher strikes are illegal in Michigan. Purposefully calling in sick when employees aren’t sick would seem to be covered by that definition.

According to state law:

“Strike” means the concerted failure to report for duty, the willful absence from one's position, the stoppage of work, or the abstinence in whole or in part from the full, faithful, and proper performance of the duties of employment for the purpose of inducing, influencing, or coercing a change in employment conditions, compensation, or the rights, privileges, or obligations of employment. For employees of a public school employer, strike also includes an action described in this subdivision that is taken for the purpose of protesting or responding to an act alleged or determined to be an unfair labor practice committed by the public school employer.

Flint schools have been shut down more than any other district in Michigan in recent years as a result of their response to COVID-19. Still, the school district got $156 million, more than 10 times the state per-pupil average.

According to, the Flint district has about 2,900 students enrolled in 2023-24.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.