MS State Auditor Shad White Demands Teacher Repay Wages While On Strike
On December 9, 2020, we received the following letter from Mississippi State Auditor Shad White through a newsletter mailing.
On September 8th and 9th, Prof. James Thomas of the University of Mississippi decided to go on a "work stoppage" (his words). He told the world on social media and his students in writing what he was doing:
"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."
Over two days Prof. Thomas ignored every single email from his students. 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, Prof. Thomas refused to perform his job duties, and his tuition-paying students suffered as a result. The taxpayers and donors to the university suffered, too. When Prof. Thomas realized he was going to be called on the carpet for not performing these duties, he attempted to explain by saying, "100 percent of my job requires time spent thinking . . . . If I’m thinking I’m working."
Thinking isn’t going to cut it with me. That's why, not long ago, my office issued a demand for $1,912.42 to Prof. James Thomas for his work stoppage. "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.
I knew I would take abuse from the radical Left when I did this, because they love Prof. Thomas and his views. But his viewpoints do not give him the right to not show up for work. And even though he and his friends will call me every name in the book, I knew someone had to step up and enforce the law--for you, the taxpayers.
For a longer explanation of this case, you can listen to an interview I gave here. And thank you, as always, for standing with me.
Yours in service,