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Posted on Tue, Dec 11, 2012 : 5:30 p.m.

Ann Arbor teachers, school board trustee join right to work protest in Lansing

By Danielle Arndt


Thousands protested the passage of right to work legislation Thursday.

AP photo

Editor's note: Information from the WISD's Emma Jackson was added to this story.

A group of teachers from the Ann Arbor Education Association and at least one school board member, Susan Baskett, were among the 10,000-plus people in Lansing Tuesday, protesting the passage of Right to Work legislation.

According to a Facebook event posting, about two dozen Ann Arbor teachers’ union members and supporters departed from the AAEA office at 7:30 a.m. to caravan to Lansing, joining other union representation from around the state.

Baskett said in a text message to that Trevor Staples, a third grade Burns Park Elementary School teacher, addressed the crowd about 12:30 p.m.

He spoke around the same time as Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

The district could not confirm how many Ann Arbor Public Schools teachers may have taken personal days to leave the classroom to protest in Lansing. However, spokeswoman Liz Margolis said the district’s human resource staff crunched some numbers and it does not appear there were any more teachers absent Tuesday than on a typical school day.

“We did’t see any unusual blips,” she said. “Ann Arbor teachers put the kids first.”

Emma Jackson, communications director for the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, echoed Margolis' statement, saying substitute teacher requests across the county appeared normal. “No spikes,” Jackson said.

The WISD handles the coordination of substitute teachers for most of the county.

Taylor School District and Warren Consolidated Schools, both in southeast Michigan, canceled classes today due to the high number of teachers planning to attend the protest.

  • Read the MLive article about the canceled classes.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 8:35 p.m.

Come on teachers, if you want respect then earn it. Stop acting like all of the other union thugs with your gimme gimme attitudes. Your benefit packages and wages are way above most people and yet your not satisfied. That is just wrong and especially to bring the children into it.


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 2:54 p.m.

Ann Arbor teachers need to contact Republican Representative Rick Olson where their schools lie in his district and express their frustrations with his partisan approach to solving problems. Rick Olson is a rubber stamp Republican, always voting the party line, and he doesn't even think. And, Oh by the way, you do NOT have the freedom of choice to pay him for his services !!!!!!!


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 11:49 a.m.

After what I saw regarding the union workers group tearing down a tent with people in it and attacking a news commenter, I don't feel sorry for them at all re: this bill. And, I wonder how many folks in New York would have like the union worker who turned away a truck full of transformers that were being delivered to them because the truck driver was not union. Unions have a place but they are not the rulers of the country. And, workers should have a choice without paying dues that will be used to pay HUGE salaries to union officials and HUGE donations to support a political party that may not be there choice. And, sorry, but for those school districts who had to close there schools down for the day because there were no teachers and there was more than one in Michigan, wrong. And, I hope they don't take their beliefs back to the students, but let students decided for themselves especially in the middle and high schools.


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 11:01 a.m.

It appears that about 2 dozen weren't "putting kids first".


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 3:12 p.m.

totally agree with this one.


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 4:09 a.m.

What a great day for the state of Michigan!

Basic Bob

Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 1:28 a.m.

If I took a day off work to protest against my employer, and was seen in public, I can imagine what would greet me on my return to work. They are lucky they have the union to prevent them from being pink-slipped. It is an illegal strike when the schools have to close because all the teachers don't show up.

Kate Higgins

Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 1 p.m.

Bob: I think you are missing the point if you believe that folks went Lansing to protest their employers. People went to Lansing to voice their disapproval of a law voted through be our legislature that would weaken unions. And FYI: personal days can be taken for personal business, and indeed, how "lucky" that unions protect them from being fired for doing something they believe in. And how "lucky" are we for the five day work week, anti-child labor laws, and safety in the workplace?


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 5:12 a.m.

Bob, what realm of the twilight zone are you speaking from here?

Basic Bob

Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 2:50 a.m.

There are things that I can't do with my personal day, for instance serve time in jail or work for a competitor. I guess if I worked for a union, they would protect me when I attempt to sabotage my job.

Susie Q

Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 2:11 a.m.

I guess we should all be happy that RTW passed. Then if an employee uses a Personal Business Day to do Personal Business, they will be fired.

Terry Star21

Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 1:05 a.m.

"Ann Arbor teachers put the kids first." (Margolis) Seriously ?


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 3:11 p.m.

Yup, that does sound like AAPS. Teachers first then the children. I heard there more needed subs on that day then ever before.

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 1:17 a.m.

How can they when they have a superintendent who puts politics first?


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 12:59 a.m.

Sorry that can't seem to cover any news in person anymore. No gas allowance I guess. I was sitting there when your text came in to cover this story, and it concerns me that you really missed what today was about, and how important all this is. Fortunately the teachers along with their Union do realize what is happening in Lansing. Because some of the dirtiest politics in Michigan's history is happening right now, and RTW is just the beginning.


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 12:14 a.m.

Remember, It's all about the children. If they follow the Wisconsin script, there were doctors on site at the protest that would sign "sick cards" for protesters.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Dec 11, 2012 : 11:52 p.m.

Since having a substitute is particularly harmful to our youngest and most vulnerable students, I hope the AAPS uses its policy requiring teachers to have a doctor's excuse for skipping school. Any so-called teacher who hurt his or her students by walking out today should be fired.

Frank Grzybek

Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 10:40 p.m.

Apparently, you have never actually fought for something you believed in. I feel sorry for you and those with the same attitude. These people have as much right to voice their opinion as you do. By the way, did you ever pull your child from class to go on vacation? You berate teachers for missing school, but it's not that important when the family is going to Florida, is it.

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 1:16 a.m.

Anecdotal evidence, undoubtedly. When there's a substitute, it's impossible to follow the flow of the school year to date. Substitutes try, but they can't have specific knowledge of where the class is. They end up reviewing basic stuff or just being baby-sitters. I remember when I was kid, substitute day was kind of dull, because nothing new would be taught. I guess some districts apparently have negotiated two personal days into a contract that already has months off during the summer, holiday time, and weekends. Most people work about 240-250 days per year, plus whatever's needed to prepare. Teachers only work 180 plus preparation. The notion that personal days should be added is ludicrous.


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 1:13 a.m.



Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 12:29 a.m.

Teachers have two personal days per year. If and when they decide to take them are their own personal business.


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 12:03 a.m.

Re:, "having a substitute is particularly harmful to our youngest and most vulnerable students," you must have some evidence for such a strong claim. And, please clarify that you believe this harm is egregious enough that teachers should not be able to leave their classrooms for a day.


Tue, Dec 11, 2012 : 11:42 p.m.

I hope they remembered to get a sub for the 3rd grade class that trevor staples blew off. I wonder if staples realizes things at the school went smoothly without him.


Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 6:31 a.m.

Obviously the labor contracts need amending since these folks have too much time off. In fact, maybe we need to eliminate unions altogether so most citizens aren't bulloi9ed by the minority of workers who have the best of everything related to working conditions, wages, and benefits. I would fight to retain that priviledged work place too. I'll fight for a more balanced system, thank you very much.


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

Teachers unions bargain items such as class size limits, having proper materials in the classrooms, having the temperatures in classroom be acceptable, etc, etc.. Kudos to Mr. Staples who had the long term vision to express his opinion about Right to Work, and to unselfishly use his personal day to oppose an issue that will hurt his students in the long run. I have no doubt that he took the time to plan quality lessons and arrange with a substitute teacher who he knew would do a good job in his absence. The quality of public schools in Right to Work States is not good. Just check out their test scores.


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 1:27 p.m.

Don't really care if Trevor Staples wasted a personal day on this, I would be more concerned if this becomes a topic or "teachable moment" in his 3rd grade classroom!


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 1:11 a.m.

As it turns out, he can do whatever he wants to do. He is actually taking time to take CARE of his students. The shortsighted folks that tend to comment on won't see anything positive, this we know. Trevor Staples is an educator. He is also doing a job. In his job, he is allowed to take days off. If you think teachers "blow off their classes" you have clearly never written lesson plans, or talked with a teacher who loves what they do. Trevor was in Lansing supporting something he believes in, which is being attacked. Huh, seems like that bill is already working. This is a sad state of affairs, and the teachers aren't the enemy. Nor are the unions. People with your mindset are the people we need to watch out for.


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 1 a.m.

Blowing off school doesn't set a very good example does it, I wonder if he'll make this part of a class lesson tomorrow?


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 12:17 a.m.

I don't favor a world where teachers blow off school.


Tue, Dec 11, 2012 : 11:53 p.m.

Do you favor a world where teachers aren't allowed to take any personal days to take care of things they need to?

Jack Eaton

Tue, Dec 11, 2012 : 11:17 p.m.

Right to work legislation undermines a fundamental principal of workplace democracy. If a majority of employees vote to form a union, every member of the bargaining unit who will benefit from the negotiated improvements in wages, hours and working conditions should pay to support the union's bargaining activities. Much like the requirement that I pay all of my federal taxes even though I opposed the war in Iraq, employees who accept the benefits of a union contract were required to contribute to the cost of having a union. And indeed, union represented workers make better wages and enjoy better working conditions than unrepresented workers. The presence of union represented workers in an economy helps elevate the wages of all workers, even those who are unrepresented. The reason radical Republicans like Snyder oppose unions is that their billionaire buddies make more money if they employ lower wage employees. Allowing represented employees to become freeloaders weakens the unions and helps billionaires make more money. There goes the middle class.


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 4:42 a.m.

Don't confuse the majorIty with the facts Jack. They show their smarts by voting them down.


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 3:49 a.m.

Where is the concept of "work place democracy" defined and codified. What is it. What kind of democracy is it if I have to pay union dues and then the union contributes some of that money to a political candidate or cause I oppose. There is no parallel between the governmental function of taxation and keeping the country secure through the consent of the governed and unions. True to be effective you need all the employees marching in the same line and their due but that is not some inalienable right. Union served their purpose in the bad old days. Maybe they need to shift the tactics and purpose. Time change. People and institutions need to as well


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 1:56 a.m.

Gotta give you 4 stars here Jack, but what do I know. Maybe Jesse Jackson is the real story here.

Homeland Conspiracy

Tue, Dec 11, 2012 : 11:14 p.m.

Funny that "Rev". Jesse Jackson was at anything that has to do with work, as he has NEVER had a job.


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 2:33 a.m.

Yes he did. He got a young lady pregnant, denied it, had DNA done and finally admitted the affair. Now he is paying through his nose to make sure his "love child" is taken care of. LOL :)


Tue, Dec 11, 2012 : 11:04 p.m.

If that parasite Jesse Jackson is against right-to-work, then it must be a good thing for Michigan.


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

Wow Max, congratulations for introducing Godwin's Law so soon into the comment section! Simply amazing!


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 4:19 a.m.

Just educate yourself:


Wed, Dec 12, 2012 : 12:16 a.m.

parasite (noun) - something that resembles a biological parasite in dependence on something else for existence or support without making a useful or adequate return. No, I think that's the right word.