If you’ve read any of my missives, you will know that I am very anti-union. They may have served their purpose years ago, but today, I see them as bastions for socialist activists. Unions are largely to blame for the economic failure of GM and other auto companies that we, as taxpayers, had to bail out. Unions have driven other companies out of business because they could not afford to pay their employees the outrageously high union wages and benefits. Then we see unions spending millions of dollars supporting socialist political candidates such as Barack Obama.
As if I needed another reason to dislike unions, the Michigan Education Association just provided another example in the case of Neal Erickson, a former math teacher at Rose City Middle School. In October 2012, he was accused of raping a young student from 2006 to 2009. He was then placed on administrative leave with pay. In December 2012, Erickson was arrested and formerly charged with criminal sexual misconduct. On May 8, 2013, Erickson pleaded guilty to first degree sexual misconduct with a minor.
Erickson’s sentencing hearing caused outrage among a number of the city’s residents because some of his fellow teachers wrote letters on Erickson’s behalf asking for a light sentence because he was a good teacher and person. More outrage was seen when Mike Eagan, a member of the local school board sat with Erickson’s family in the courtroom, supporting him at his sentencing. He was sentenced to prison for 15 to 30 years.
The teacher’s union is now trying to get Erickson a $10,000 severance package that they claim was offered by the school district and accepter by Erickson. It all stems from a school district action meant to help reduce teaching staff. On March 26, 2013, they offered any qualifying teacher $10,000 if they left the school district. At the time of the offer, Erickson was still on paid administrative leave according to his attorney who said that Erickson accepted the severance package.
The buyout started with an initial payment of $5,000 with a second payment of $5,000 to follow at a later date. When Erickson did not receive the first payment, his union attorney contacted the school district. School Superintendent Dan Cwayna said that he made the decision not to pay the child molester for obvious reasons and explained:
“You had to qualify for the buyout, depending on your years in the district. We’ve done it in the past. It was a little different this last year in that we offered the buyout in two $5,000 payments.”
“When the first payment was sent out … and the union discovered we did not make the payment to Mr. Erickson, they filed a grievance on his behalf.”
“That was something I as superintendent, with some consultation with the president of the board. That was a decision the superintendent makes and at this point … I prefer not to get into the reasons.”
The union did file a grievance on behalf of Erickson and have taken that grievance to arbitration. Neither the MEA union or Cwayna were willing to comment further on the case, so I’ll comment further on it for them.
Like Cwayna stated, a teacher had to qualify to be eligible for the $10,000 severance pay. I would not think that being on administrative leave and having been arrested for raping a middle school student for three years would qualify anyone for a severance package.
John Janczewski, the father of Erickson’s victim, said that their family is shocked by the actions of the teacher’s union. He told EAGnews:
“It’s completely ludicrous! Are they nuts in the head? How can the union file a grievance and back a child molester? We’re very upset about it.”
“What are you going to say when you’re backing a child molester? I mean, this starts it all over again. It just sickens us. If anything, that money should go to my son, who is out there trying to make it in this world all messed up.”
“We as a family in no way are going to let this happen. I mean, a child molester paid to molest a student? He doesn’t deserve it.”
“I don’t think the union wants the publicity we’ll bring on this.”
Janczewski is also leading an effort to obtain enough signatures to force a recall of school board member Mike Eagan who sat with Erickson’s family at the sentencing and who supported Erickson, the admitted child rapist and pedophile. When asked about the recall, he said:
“The recall is really going good. I’m not exact on the total (number of signatures) yet, because we have so many papers out there. I expect to hit our total in the next three weeks.”
This is typical of union bullying. They obviously don’t care about the boy that was repeatedly raped over a three year period by Erickson. They don’t care about the boy’s family or the community. All they care about is getting Erickson his money that really isn’t due him. And yes, I’ll put this in my long list of reasons why I am so anti-union and believe that they should all be abolished and that everyone should have the right to work without having to be a slave to the socialist unions.