Was Wednesday's 'sick-out' by Madison teachers an illegal strike?

2011-02-16T18:13:00Z 2011-07-05T18:08:38Z Was Wednesday's 'sick-out' by Madison teachers an illegal strike?State Journal staff madison.com
February 16, 2011 6:13 pm  • 

State law prohibits public school teachers from striking. So did Wednesday's "sick-out" by Madison School District teachers constitute an illegal strike?

No, said John Matthews, Madison Teachers Inc. executive director, who called the event "a political action," not a strike.

"They're not protesting against their employers," he said. "The employer had nothing to do with this. This is trying to save public education in Wisconsin."

Madison school officials didn't respond immediately Wednesday to requests for comment.

Peter Davis, legal counsel with the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, which administers the state's collective bargaining laws, declined to say whether the action — in which 40 percent of the Madison union's 2,600 members called in sick as of late Tuesday — amounted to a strike since his organization could be called on to make that judgment in any complaint against MTI.

But in general, Davis said, a strike includes any concerted work stoppage by municipal employees, any concerted interruption of operation of services, or any concerted refusal to work or perform normal duties for the purpose of enforcing demands on a municipal employer.

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