Milwaukee teachers' union encourages members to take pledge for "bold action"

MILWAUKEE -- Unhappy with next year's proposed school budget, Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association (MTEA -- the teachers' union) is asking members to pledge to take "bold action" to guarantee a just budget for students and teachers. At a school board meeting Thursday, May 3, the teachers stopped short of saying the word "strike."

Once facing a more than $30 million budget deficit, Milwaukee Public Schools' plan released last week, proposes eliminating 125 teaching positions and spend millions less in supplies to stay out of the red.

Thursday, May 3 provided a first opportunity for school board members to ask questions on the proposal. One group who is not happy: teachers.

Wednesday night, May 2 the Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association (MTEA -- the teachers' union) released a video message asking educators to search their conscience and consider how far each is willing to go guarantee a just budget. Signatures committing to take action if needed are now being collected in schools.

FOX6's Ben Handelman: "Is that a threat to strike?"

Amy Mizialko

MTEA Vice President Amy Mizialko: "I can't comment on that question at this time."

"Taking in some water but we're not the Titanic and everybody shouldn't run for the life boats," said Director Terry Falk, MPS Board of School Directors.

While there are cuts, the district does not anticipate layoffs. Schools are not being closed and teachers will get raises.

Once talked about cuts to employee health care are not in the proposed budget. School board members say, more difficult decisions are ahead.

Terry Falk

"The situation right now is we've got to figure out a way to get through this coming year, and then next year we have to make some major adjustments and repairs to the ship of MPS so we can continue on our voyage of education," said Falk.

"A few years from now there will not be anything left to fight for. The time is now," said Mizialko.

It is illegal for Milwaukee teachers to go on strike. But history shows that hasn't stopped Wisconsin teachers in the past. Milwaukee teachers say public school funding is a national issue and they plan to be apart of it.