After more than a year of negotiations between the Denver Classroom Teachers Association and Denver Public Schools, teachers in the Colorado capital officially voted to strike on Tuesday night. According to the Denver Post, 93 percent of the union voted in favor of the work stoppage.
The vote didn’t come out of nowhere: Colorado teachers joined with their colleagues in Arizona when they staged walkouts in April after six months of failed negotiations; 27 school districts in Colorado were forced to close for that protest. Over the next eight months, DCTA and DPS attempted to negotiate a contract before their current one expired last Friday. The two sides were in a bargaining session late into the night which ended when it became clear that they were roughly $8 million apart.
The majority of the disagreements centered on the school system’s refusal to provide a solid commitment to raising the teachers’ salaries, especially those who obtain their Master’s degrees. While both sides told the Post they’re more than willing to negotiate during the strike, it’s unclear how long the strike could go given district Superintendent Susana Cordova’s call on Tuesday to hire furloughed federal workers as scabs. Later in the night, per the Post, Cordova announced the district would double its daily salary for substitute teachers.
The strike will be the first walkout by teachers in Colorado’s largest school district in 25 years. The strike of 1994 resulted in a 2.15 percent pay bump for the teachers, although the district managed to add 10 days to the work schedule. This year’s strike was confirmed the same day the United Teachers of Los Angeles announced their a new contract after a weeklong strike of their own. Here’s hoping Denver’s teachers follow their L.A. comrades’ lead and remind the city and the state that public education and paying workers fair wages is, actually, a good thing.