Impasse Resolution Mechanisms and Teacher Strikes

Public school teachers have no right to strike under Michigan law, but the power to strike exists. Michigan residents witnessed forty teacher strikes in the autumn of 1973 alone. Among them was the forty-four-day strike by Detroit teachers. The strikes during the past fall were not an unfortunate aberration. Ninety percent of the strikes in Michigan are by school teachers. In the public education context, the threat of a strike no longer brings negotiating parties together. A new mechanism for resolution of deadlocks in teacher-school board contract disputes is needed. This article describes the problem, outlines impasse resolution procedures presently used, and proposes a mechanism better suited to the needs of the public.