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Denver teachers’ strike set for February 11

By staff |
February 7, 2019
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Denver, CO - The Denver Teachers Classroom Teacher’s Association (DCTA) announced in a press conference, held in the driving snow in front of the Colorado State Capital Building, that the teachers’ strike will begin on Monday, February 11. This would be the first time since 1984 that Denver teachers would walk off their jobs and set up picket lines.

The DCTA and the Denver School Board have been negotiating the union’s demand for an increase in base pay, as opposed to the school board offer to give a small increase in the budget of its haphazard system of bonuses. When the district offered less than1% of its budget as ‘an increase in base pay’ the talks broke down and the union called a strike vote. DCTA members voted 93% in favor of a strike.

Since the talks started, the school district has been taking actions to try to deter and undermine any strike. The district very publicly stated that they would pay double the normal pay to any substitute teachers who worked during the strike, to encourage strike-breaking. The district threatened administrative staff, who are not part of the DCTA, with dismissal if they refused to cross DCTA picket lines. The district also asked the State of Colorado to intervene in the negotiations, which would mean a delay of six months in any strike.

DCTA wrote a response opposing the school board’s request for state intervention, asking the state to allow the strike to go forward. In the last two weeks the union has rallied in front of the state capitol opposing state intervention and has organized its members and the public to write letters to the governor asking him to not intervene in the strike. On February 6, the state of Colorado announced that it would not intervene in the bargaining process between DCTA and the school board, allowing the strike to go forward.

DCTA has decided that the strike will begin on February 11, if no agreement is reached. Denver teachers believe that the strike is necessary to reverse the trend of high turnover of teachers due to low pay. They also believe that the strike is ultimately to the benefit of Denver’s children, who now suffer from the failure to retain qualified teachers, because of the low pay.

“No teacher wants to strike, we would rather be teaching students in our classrooms. But when the strike starts, we will be walking for our students,” said Denver teacher and DCTA President Henry Roman.

The Denver teachers’ action is part of a recent upsurge of teacher militancy around the country, as teachers have been taking their demands to the streets for fair pay and conditions. There have recently been strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona, Washington state, Pueblo, Colorado and Los Angeles. Denver teachers will join this list if the school board refuses to meet their demands.

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