A weeklong strike won smaller class sizes, more support personnel, and raises for teachers in Los Angeles. Now, after a year of negotiations, educators in Denver have authorized a strike in order to win concessions of their own.
Teachers, nurses, counselors, and school psychologists in Colorado’s largest school district voted last Tuesday to authorize their first strike in 25 years. The main issue at hand is a pay incentive system, approved by Denver voters in 2005, that provides bonuses for teachers in high-poverty schools and certain content areas.
The union says that the current system keeps salaries low. It wants the district to reduce some of those bonuses and use the savings to increase base salaries and provide raises for teachers who go through professional development. It’s also asking for $28 million more in teacher compensation. The district has agreed to only $20 million more and continues to insist that it be paid through bonuses instead of salaries.
The strike was scheduled to start today, but after meeting with Gov. Jared Polis, Denver schools superintendent Susana Cordova announced that she would appeal to the state Department of Labor and Employment to intervene.
The union decried the district’s move, which could delay the strike for up to 180 days. “We are disappointed in the district’s decision to involve a third party to delay our strike rather than negotiating in good faith with educators in Denver,” it said in a statement.
Without the legal ability to strike, Denver teachers are planning to wear red to work on Monday as an expression of solidarity with each other and support for the union’s agenda.
While the state can impose fact-finding, mediation, and public hearings on both sides, it cannot stop the teachers from striking, and a work stoppage still seems likely. In a message to its members, the union had a reminder:” The strike is not canceled – only postponed.”