Educators converging on Lansing to protest Lame Duck bills this week

By: - December 10, 2018 5:33 pm

Marcus Walton | Ken Coleman

Marcus Walton said he didn’t knock doors this summer and fall to elect Democrats, only to have Republicans shove through an aggressive Lame Duck agenda that hurts teachers and students.

Gretchen Whitmer | Susan J. Demas

“We lobbied and fought to get [Gov-Elect] Gretchen [Whitmer] and the Democratic slate elected and we accomplished that goal,” said Walton, a Detroit Public Schools Community District educator and Detroit Federation of Teachers executive board member. “And now these clowns in Lansing are crying over spilled milk over. They lost.”

The Walled Lake resident canvassed Saturdays for candidates who he believes represent his interests. He has called Republican state lawmakers in recent days and asked them to respect the general election results.

“It’s a slap in the face to the people who voted,” Walton said.

Now Walton plans this week to rally at Michigan’s Capitol, along with many teachers across the state.

Michigan’s two largest education unions are planning to push back against GOP legislation during Lame Duck session. AFT Michigan and the Michigan Education Association (MEA) AFT Michigan and MEA are protesting:

  • Senate Bill 1260, sponsored by Sen. Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive), would require public workers to vote every other year on a union to represent them.
  • House Bill 6474, sponsored by Rep. Steve Johnson (R-Wayland), would prohibit local school districts and unions from jointly negotiating to include paid union release time in collective bargaining agreements.
  • HB 5368, sponsored by Rep. Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Twp.), would prevent public school employees from having union work count toward their retirement pensions.
  • HB 4163, sponsored by Rep. Daniela Garcia (R-Holland), would ban collective bargaining over school calendar and schedule.
  • HB 5526, sponsored by Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw Twp.), would require A-F letter grades for schools based heavily on standardized test scores among other factors. As the Advance reported, the bill would create a commission to oversee the process. A majority of members to the commission would be appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder. The commission, unions argue, would undercut the elected State Board of Education.
David Hecker

“Republicans are moving legislation that is bad for working families and bad for public education,” says David Hecker, AFT Michigan president.

The unions have several scheduled events this week, including:

  • Workers’ Lobby Day Tuesday: The Michigan AFL-CIO will host a “Workers’ Lobby Day” for retirees and active employees.
  • Educator Vigil Wednesday: AFT Michigan and MEA members will meet at the Capitol at 5:30 pm.
  • Member-to-member phone banks: Efforts will be carried out this week in Ann Arbor, Detroit and Saginaw. Members will be asked to call their lawmakers.  

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman writes about Southeast Michigan, history and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on Black life in Detroit.