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Denver teachers strike for decent pay

By staff

Denver, CO – Over 3700 Denver teachers walked off the job on Monday, February 13 in support of their claim for an increase in their base pay, which is widely regarded as too low to maintain their families. The Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) called the strike in case collective bargaining failed to gain adequate salary increases.

Collective bargaining occurred in an all-day meeting on the Saturday before the strike. When it became clear that the school board members were engaging in filibustering and refusing to talk about the teachers’ claims, DCTA got up from the table to prepare to strike.

Picket lines formed at local schools all over Denver, with the striking teachers wearing DCTA red clothing. Monday culminated in an impressive rally of strikers and their supporters in front of the Colorado capitol building.

Collective bargaining resumed February 12 and DCTA held another impressive rally in a park a block away from the bargaining venue. Strikers circled around the building that housed the talks, carrying placards to tell the school board to come to the table with a decent offer.

DCTA has been very clear that they are fighting for the teachers, for the students and the future of public education in Denver. “This morning we head back to be picket lines and the bargaining table. We will continue striking for our students until the district brings a proposal that ends the instability of ProComp [a haphazard bonus scheme] and helps stop the teacher turnover crisis in Denver. You can’t put students first if you put educators last,” stated a recent DCTA communique.

There is a lot of evidence of popular support for the strike. Parents and supporters have been buying coffee, water and food for the strikers. Several local restaurants have offered free lunches to teachers. Union insignia and banners from the CWU, International Laborers, and the Amalgamated Transport Workers, among others were displayed at the DCTA rallies. On the first day of the strike a group of Teamsters parked their trucks in front of a local high school and blocked deliveries to the school for an hour.

The school district claimed that they had everything under control and the schools were operating well. This claim was belied by local news footage showing chaos in the schools, with a mass dance party in the halls of one school during school hours and in other schools showing students who had no teachers. A lawsuit was filed in Federal Court for the District of Colorado alleging that the Denver School Board has not made sufficient plans to protect children in special education.

Bargaining is to resume, February 13. Striking teachers are planning to be outside the bargaining venue demanding decent pay for Denver’s teachers.

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