Senate passes anti-collective bargaining, anti-tenure bills

Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign legislation that passed this evening to strip public employees of collective bargaining rights and dismantle teacher tenure.

With hundreds of teachers and education support professionals looking on from the gallery above the legislative chamber, the GOP-led Senate passed the four-bill package. House Bills 4625-4628 previously passed in the House.

"This is a shameful day in Michigan," said Sen. John Gleason, D-Flushing, who opposed the bills.

House Bill 4626 allows schools to fire teachers for almost any reason that is not arbitrary and capricious, a much lower standard than current reasonable and just cause protections.

Under House Bill 4628, public employees will lose the right to collectively bargain many critical topics, including evaluation, job placement, merit pay, and more.

The changes are the most sweeping revisions to the state's Public Employment Relations Act since 1994, when lawmakers and then-Gov. John Engler made changes that increased penalties for striking public school employees and opened the door to greater privatization of education support professional jobs.

The final votes on the bills were: House Bill 4625 passed 25-13; House Bill 4626 passed 25-13; House Bill 4627 passed 20-17; and, House Bill 4628 passed 20-18.

All 12 Democratic senators voted against all four bills, along with Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw, who also sponsored Senate Bill 503, a common-sense approach to tenure reform that garnered MEA's support. Sens. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, Bruce Caswell, R-Hillsdale, and Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, also voted against House Bills 4627 and 4628. Sens. Mike Green, R-Mayville, and Geoff Hansen, R-Hart, voted no only on House Bill 4627. Sens. Mike Nofs, R-Jackson, and Tory Rocca, R-Sterling Heights, voted no only on HB 4628.

"This is a sad day for Michigan students," said MEA President Iris K. Salters in a press release Thursday evening. "Whenever the working conditions of Michigan school employees are threatened, the learning conditions of students are deeply affected.

"We will do everything in our power to fight back."