Denver school leaders, teachers negotiate trying to avoid strike

Elias Hubbard
February 12, 2019

The main sticking points in the talks over a contract governing Denver's incentive pay system, which started over a year ago, are lowering bonuses to put more money in teachers' base pay and how to allow teachers to advance in pay based on education and training, the norm in most school districts.

Taking their place among a national awakening of public school educators demanding better treatment of their profession and better schools for their students, thousands of teachers went on strike Monday after 15 months of negotiations stalled.

Despite the strike, DPS said students should still go to class this week. "We are incredibly disappointed that on the last day of bargaining and less than two days before a strike, they doubled down on onetime incentives teachers do not want".

Last month, teachers in Los Angeles, California walked out of their classrooms for several days.

Although teachers in some states are barred from striking, teachers in Colorado have a right to walk off the job.

This teachers' rebellion is by no means an American affair. The city hasn't experienced a teacher strike in 25 years.

Outside the district's schools on Monday, many students braved the cold to join their teachers in demanding fair pay. For one, Denver's union is negotiating only over how teachers are paid, and negotiations have narrowed the scope of the disagreements significantly already.

"By us doing this we finally became united", he said, marching with fellow teachers, members of other unions and students. While he supports the teachers, he believes the union's handling of the negotiations was not appropriate. I stand with Denver teachers.

It will cost about $400,000 a day to keep the schools running during the strike, Gov. Jared Polis said.

Militancy continues to grow with educators receiving growing support. Early College, East High School, George Washington High School, Denver School of the Arts and John F. Kennedy High School. They shouted, "What do we want?" "We know that we won't get the same level of education from substitutes".

"They need us. They need our labour, they need our minds, they need our talents to really make it happen", lead union negotiator Rob Gould said. It is very sad because we build relationships with our teachers. This is a poor area, and the school system does not get enough funding.

Cordova said students at schools she visited were working in classrooms, overseen by adults.

Denver educators have been told there are no resources to address their demands even though the state is home to 10 billionaires, including the Cargill family, Charlie Ergen (Dish Network) and Pat Stryker, whose private fortunes have always been protected by the Democratic Party. The State of Colorado announced it would not intervene on February 6.

"It is a problem for our kids not to have their teachers in class", Cordova said. Nonetheless, he lives with three other roommates and had to take out a loan just for the security deposit on his rent. "We give you our lives".

It's not clear how many of DPS' 5,000-plus teachers will be absent indefinitely.

The number of workers involved in strike activity in 2018 hit a 32-year high in the United States in a clear indication that workers are chomping at the bit to fight the bad growth of social inequality.

A new road of struggle must be opened up.

At the time, ProComp enjoyed support among school district officials and the teachers union.

Waldstreicher said he supports his "incredible" teachers but admitted he is anxious that, without an agreement after a few days of striking, students like himself will get behind in their studies. Rank-and-file teachers must demand that all negotiations be live-streamed and that teachers have a full-week to study and discuss any agreement before voting on the ratification of any contract.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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