Denver public school teachers vote to strike over pay, incentives

Lead negotiator Rob Gould, in red T-shirt, is flanked by fellow members of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association as he speaks at a news conference on January 22, 2019. (Photo via The Denver Post)
Lead negotiator Rob Gould, in red T-shirt, is flanked by fellow members of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association as he speaks at a news conference on January 22, 2019. (Photo via The Denver Post)

Public school teachers in Denver, Colorado, have voted to strike to demand for more money and incentive pay as teachers in Los Angeles reached a deal with school officials to end their six-day strike.

On Tuesday, the teachers in Denver overwhelmingly voted to go on strike after negotiations with Colorado’s largest school district failed last week.

Over 90 percent of the 3,500 members of the city’s largest union, Denver Classroom Teachers Association, voted to stage their first strike in 25 years following the culmination of balloting that began on Saturday.

“Tonight, Denver teachers overwhelmingly agreed to strike,” Rob Gould, the union’s lead negotiator, said at a press conference on Tuesday.

“Ninety three percent voted to strike. They’re striking for better pay. They’re striking for our profession. And they’re striking for Denver students.”

The strike could begin on Monday, unless the school district reaches a last-minute deal with the total of 5,650 teachers who work there.

Meanwhile, Denver Public Schools Superintendent Susana Cordova said she would keep open the district’s 207 schools, where over 92,000 students are enrolled, using substitute teachers and administrators.

Denver Public Schools Superintendent Susana Cordova (File photo)

Cordova said the district offered teachers a 10 percent rise in pay for the 2019-2020 school year, among other incentives.

“We came to the table to bargain in good faith and offered proposal after proposal – adding $26.5 million and responded to structural concerns – in an attempt to reach an agreement,” she said in a written statement.

However, according to union leaders, what the district is offering provides no incentives for longtime educators to earn raises, while the union’s proposal rewards teachers for advancing their education.

“They (district administrators) have refused to change their ways, choosing to keep an outrageous amount of money in administration rather than keep our teachers in school,” said union president Henry Roman.

What the two sides disagree over amounts to $8 million, Roman said.

The strike vote by Denver’s teachers came on the same day the teachers’ strike in Los Angeles finally ended after a deal was reached with the school district.

On January 14, some 30,000 teachers walked off the job in their first strike against the Los Angeles Unified School District in 30 years, demanding higher pay, smaller classes and more support staff.

However, the teachers agreed to return to work Wednesday after voting to ratify a deal between their union and school officials.

The vote by members of the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) union ends a battle that left 600,000 students in limbo.

“It’s a historic day today in Los Angeles,” UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl told reporters late Tuesday.

“Our members after a strike that began on Monday, January 14, are going to be heading back to school, to the students that they love and the classrooms that they love and the schools that they love and are committed to,” he added.

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