Arizona teachers begin voting on whether to strike

Elias Hubbard
April 21, 2018

The "RedForEd" movement was organized by Arizona teachers to persuade Gov. Doug Ducey to provide more funding to Arizona schools.

Arizona is one of several Republican-dominant states where teachers have demanded higher pay this year.

The potential for Arizona educators to walk out en masse is causing some confusion about how school districts would respond and what the repercussions could be in this right-to-work state, where unions do not collectively bargain with school districts and representation is not mandatory.

The grass-roots organizing group Arizona Educators United has reserved space at the state Capitol on Friday and for four of five days next week for rallies as it gets ready for a possible walkout. It said no law bans a teacher strike but that a statewide strike would be illegal under common law and participants could lose their teaching credentials.

"We've been telling our members that for six weeks, and they understand it", Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association, according to KCRA in Sacramento. "And it doesn't seem to faze them". Teachers have said that they use a portion of their pay to purchase items for their students and classrooms.

He would not reveal how many votes need to be cast in favor of a walkout.

Derek Harris said the plan is to distribute paper ballots to all educators - including both teachers and support staff - at all schools, with voting starting as early as Tuesday.

The Scottsdale Unified School District was finalizing information, spokeswoman Erin Helm said Thursday. "Hopefully there'll be enough time for us to communicate properly to our schools and our parents". Ducey announced his proposal last week, which would give teachers a 20 percent pay raise over the next two years.

His proposal has received support, but others are concerned about finding the money to cover its roughly $650 million cost when fully implemented.

"[The teachers] are very attuned with the needs of our community, so I know that however we move forward with our colleagues in the [Sunnyside Education Association], it's going to be in a way that is respectful to the process, to our families, and to our community", said SUSD spokesman Victor Mercado.

If the Legislature passes the increase, Ducey said teachers will see their pay increase to an average of $52,725 by the upcoming school year and $58,130 by 2020.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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