Denver teachers voted to go on strike Tuesday night, following over a year of failed negotiations on a new contract on teacher compensation.
The vote, held from Saturday, saw 93 percent of teachers with the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, which counts two-thirds of educators in the district as members, in favor of striking for better wages, Rob Gould, union leader, said in a media conference that was broadcast live on Facebook.
“They’re striking for better pay. They’re striking for our profession. And they’re striking for Denver students,” he said.
The decision to strike follows some 15 months of negotiations and, more recently, two weeks of marathon bargaining sessions in January on a new contract that sees the union and Denver Public Schools $8 million apart on compensation proposals, the Denver Post reported.
Teachers will be required to finish the week, meaning the walkout could begin Monday.
Denver Public Schools responded to news of the strike on its social networking sites, saying all schools and services, including bus transportation and school meals, will continue to operate.
Denver Public Schools Superintendent Susana Cordova said that Denver Public Schools is doing what it can, including making cuts to its central office to provide funds for its teachers.
“I want to assure you that we remain open to working with our teachers to get to an agreement. We think it is really important that we do. No body wants to be in the position that we’re in and our goal is to continue negotiating so that we can find a solution to where we are,” she said in a video posted to Vimeo.
To keep schools functioning, Denver Public Schools will be looking to its pool of substitutes to teach if its teachers go on strike, said Cordova, NBC News citied.
Leaders of the union and the public schools are planning to meet with Governor Jared Polis Wednesday to see where to go from here, the Denver Post reported.
If the strike occurs, it will be the first walkout for Denver teachers in 25 years.
Colo. Sen. Julie Gonzales took to Twitter to call the teachers’ decision to strike a “clarion call from the people who give their all every day to educate our children.”
She said that if any agreement is to be met it must promote justice and equity for those “who are the heartbeat of our community.”
Denver’s decision to strike follows on the heels of the decision by Los Angeles teachers to end their own strike that lasted six days that secured the educators smaller class sizes and a 6 percent pay raise.
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