LANSING, MI (WLNS) – The cries of “union busting” were heard at the State Capitol Wednesday as the Michigan House debates its version of a Detroit school bailout package.
As our Capitol Correspondent Tim Skubick explains, Democrats and unions are worried that if the Detroit teachers union is busted, other unions around the state could be next.
“It would be breaking up a union and that would be considered union busting, yes Tim,” said State Senator Morris W. Hood III (D), Detroit.
Reporter: “Union busting, guilty?”
“No, not at all,” said State Rep. Al Pscholka (R), Detroit Public Schools Reform Sponsor.
The house has legislation to pay Detroit teachers through next year, but the democrats complain there is a hook. There is a provision that says when a new school district is created; the old union contract cannot be transferred to the new district.
The republicans contend that teachers would still have the power, however, to negotiate a new contract.
Reporter: “They can’t negotiate and come up with a new contract?”
State Rep. Pscholka: “No, they can come up with a new contract, absolutely.”
Reporter: “So why is the other side saying this is union busting?”
State Rep Pscholka: “Because this is politics, Tim.”
This teacher union lobbyist fears, however, a new state appointed governing board could refuse to negotiate even though she concedes, it could decide to bargain.
“They could choose to negotiate with the union, but it is absolutely appalling that legislators would give them the option to ignore us. And we think that that is an absolute assault on the rights of workers, and educators who are fighting for kids in the community of Detroit,” said Julie Rowe, Michigan Federation of Teachers.
The entire union movement across the state is watching all this and there are fears, if republicans can bust the union in Detroit, other unions could be next.
“The Republican Party in this state has done almost everything they can to unions already. So yeah, I think they can do pretty much…I think if people are concerned about the republicans not being good to union members in this state, we got a lot of evidence that’s happened in the past,” said State Senator Curtis Hertel Jr. (D), Lansing.
The House and Senate have different versions of this plan. They’ll try to find a middle ground if they can.