News Story

President Of Second-Largest Teachers Union Doesn’t Rule Out A Virus Epidemic Strike

Teacher strikes are illegal in Michigan

The head of the second-largest teachers union in Michigan left the door open for possible strikes if his members are required to go back to school during the current pandemic.

Teacher strikes are illegal in Michigan.

The threat came in an Aug. 5 press release.

“We stand with students and educators across the state,” said David Hecker, president of AFT Michigan. “In any plan to reopen schools, the wellbeing of students and staff must be our first priority. Our goal is to negotiate in good faith with employers and ensure schools are fully prepared to keep students and educators safe before they resume in-person instruction. We appreciate those employers who have come to the bargaining table with a commitment to reach an agreement. We view collective action as a very last resort and hope it will not be necessary—but as our national union announced last week, if a local union deems it necessary to protect the health and safety of students and staff, we will support them. We sincerely hope we are able to reach agreements with employers and educators are not put in that position.”

Hecker used the same language as a press release from his union’s national organization, the American Federation of Teachers. In it, the AFT warned that strikes could be used to keep teachers from going back into schools.

On July 28, the nationwide union issued a press release with the headline, “To ensure students’ safety, strikes could be used as a last resort”.

AFT President Randi Weingarten said “safety strikes” could be used as a “last resort,” which was the same phrase used by Hecker.

AFT Michigan did not respond to an email seeking comment. The largest Michigan school districts organized by the union are Dearborn and Detroit.