A University of Mississippi professor who said he did no work for two days as part of a strike to protest racial injustice is being slapped with a bill for that time.
Mississippi State Auditor Shad White first began investigating Ole Miss professor James Thomas in September, after Thomas widely publicized his plans to participate in a so-called “Scholar Strike” on Sept, 8 and Sept. 9, according to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.
At the time, White said it was his job to “ensure that no public money is illegally spent,” which would cover payments to a public employee who says he is on strike.
“You’ve got a professor that’s telling the world that he’s engaging in a strike,” White said. “I wanted to make sure, at minimum, he doesn’t get paid for those two days he went on strike, and I believe that falls completely under my purview.”
Thomas had advertised his plan to strike through his Twitter account.
I have strong feelings about this – if you have tenure, your #ScholarStrike activity needs to be a work stoppage. Tell your students you’re not working.
— James M. Thomas (JT) 🌹 (@Insurgent_Prof) September 6, 2020
But the sociology professor later hedged about his activities while supposedly on strike.
100 percent of my job requires time spent thinking. Thinking before writing. Thinking while writing. Thinking before teaching. Thinking while teaching.
If I’m thinking I’m working.
— James M. Thomas (JT) 🌹 (@Insurgent_Prof) September 13, 2020
Do you agree with this professor being billed for his "strike"?
95% (566 Votes)
5% (31 Votes)
Earlier this month, White announced the results of his investigation.
“Today my office issued a demand for $1,912.42 ($946.74 principal and $965.68 interest and investigative costs) to Prof. James Thomas for his ‘work stoppage’ (his words) on September 8th and 9th,” he wrote in a news release. “‘Concerted work stoppages’ and strikes are illegal under Mississippi’s no-strike law, and paying someone for not working violates Sections 66 and 96 of the state constitution. It’s simple — the taxpayers of Mississippi cannot pay someone when they did not provide the good or service they were hired to provide.”
White wrote that the simple fact of the matter is that Thomas did not engage with students as required.
“Over two days Prof. Thomas ignored every single email from his students,” he wrote. “My agents and I personally read each of those emails. One student was worried because they were having trouble responding to a writing prompt. Another could not access a lesson plan online. One student could not submit an assignment on time because of a technology problem and worried about getting full credit. Still another was worried about an assignment and asked if Prof. Thomas would be responding while on Scholar Strike. There are others.
“Prof. Thomas had three classes to teach on those two days, and he did not teach them. He also told his students, ‘I will not be responding to emails’ and ‘I will not be holding meetings via zoom, including office hours . . .’ In short, he refused to perform his job duties, and his tuition-paying students suffered as a result,” White wrote.
White pushed back against the claim Thomas made on Twitter that he was working simply because he was thinking.
“Thinking isn’t going to cut it with me. If an employee of the state auditor’s office came to me and said they would not be responding to my emails, they would not be at work, they would not be performing audits, they would not be available for calls, they would not be available for meetings, and that this was a work stoppage, but they would be thinking over the next two days, I would not pay them,” White wrote.
“The Office of the State Auditor takes Prof. Thomas at his word that he engaged in a work stoppage. If Prof. Thomas wants to make the argument that he lied and didn’t actually engage in a work stoppage, then he and his lawyer are free to try to spin that yarn now,” White wrote.
White wrote that Thomas has until the end of the month to pay what he owes the state before the case is sent to the Mississippi attorney general.
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Jack Davis 2020-12-25 07:33:24
Article Source - www.westernjournal.com