Oklahoma teachers planning statewide strike
Oklahoma public school teachers are planning a statewide strike for sometime in the coming weeks.
More than 25,000 people have joined the Facebook group “Oklahoma Teacher Walkout – The Time Is Now!” and a group of educators met Friday to discuss plans for the walkout, according to Tulsa’s KTUL.
“We are to the point where we have no other option,” one teacher told KTUL.
The teachers are frustrated with lawmakers’ lack of action on increasing teacher salaries. The state’s teachers are reportedly some of the lowest-paid in the nation, according to KTUL.
The proposed strike would come soon after a West Virginia teachers’ strike that has continued for seven days. Schools in 55 of the state’s counties remained closed on Friday, even though the teachers’ union had reached a deal with West Virginia Governor Jim Justice (R).
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New York Times Editorial
Adding:West Virginia Teachers Give a Lesson in Union Power
Before he puts his name to a Supreme Court opinion that is expected to eviscerate public-sector unions, Justice Samuel Alito Jr. should visit West Virginia.
In considering issues in a case argued this week, Mr. Alito has said the fees that unions charge nonmembers for the expense of collective bargaining infringe on workers’ “dignity and conscience” by forcing them to fund a union whose political positions they might disagree with.
He would learn something about workers’ dignity if he spoke with Katie Endicott, a 31-year-old high school English teacher from Gilbert, W.Va., whose take-home pay is less than $650 a week. She’s one of thousands of teachers who have been on strike for more than a week, shutting schools in all 55 counties of the state.
The state wanted to give 1 percent annual raises for five years to the teachers — who make less than those in all but three states — and have them pay more for health insurance.
“I have two children; I live paycheck to paycheck,” Ms. Endicott told The Times. “When I realized that they were taking hundreds of dollars and then they tried to tell me they were giving me a pay raise of 1 percent, I knew I can’t just sit back.”
New York Daily News: West Virginia teachers: No raise? No school; strike goes on
West Virginia agrees to 5 percent raise to end teachers' strike
(Reuters) - West Virginia officials agreed on Tuesday to a deal ending a teachers strike by raising pay for all state workers by 5 percent after more than a week of protests across the Appalachian state, the governor said.
More than 277,000 students were out of the classroom for nine school days as teachers pressed for higher salaries in West Virginia, where pay ranks near the bottom for U.S. teachers. ...
Senate negotiator Craig Blair said his side would agree to the 5 percent raise, which he said he thought was the biggest pay hike in West Virginia history.
“We’ve also done this without increasing any taxes at all. Now, there’s going to be some pain,” he said in the meeting, which was livestreamed. Blair said lawmakers would seek to cut state spending by $20 million, taking funds from general services and Medicaid.
Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, said by phone from West Virginia that the strike was indicative of the state’s long history of labor activism as a coal mining hub and of the planning that educators had done before walking out.
That's pretty good for the teachers who went on strike, but it's not great. However, I'd like to see this strike give a lot more people the idea that it's good to stand up for themselves and strike.
Adding:Teacher pressure forces Oklahoma Education Association to move walkout up to April 2
The Oklahoma Education Association changed its proposed date for a statewide walkout from April 23 to April 2 in response to pushback within its own membership and non-member teachers.
Alicia Priest, president of OEA, told the Tulsa World of the date change Wednesday afternoon.
She said the union is calling for the Oklahoma Legislature to fund a significant pay increase for teachers, support personnel and increase overall common education funding by April 1 and if that deadline isn't met, OEA calls for a statewide walkout to begin April 2.
Teachers would converge on the Capitol beginning on April 2, Priest said.
“Teachers have demanded that the date be changed, and OEA listened,” said Brendan Jarvis, an OEA board member representing Union and Sand Springs and Union Public Schools teacher. ...
Other OEA factions such as Zone C, which includes teachers in Adair, Cherokee and Muskogee counties passed a motion Tuesday evening to give the Oklahoma Legislature until April 2 and then take a "work action" to shut down their schools April 3.
Vox: The West Virginia teachers strike is over. But Oklahoma and Arizona may be next.
A backlash is brewing against the Republican tax-cutting frenzy.
Thursday’s dispatch: Union uprising
West Virginia teachers went on strike for the longest period in state history. Teachers won a 5% pay raise from West Virginia lawmakers after shutting down schools across the state for nearly two weeks. Now, teachers elsewhere in the United States are set to follow the lead of West Virginians after what amounted to one of the largest and most successful strikes in recent U.S. history.
In Oklahoma, two of the state’s largest school districts — in Oklahoma City and Tulsa — expressed solidarity with their teachers unions who are demanding higher pay and investment in schools from state legislators. Oklahoma’s largest teachers union told state lawmakers they have until April 1 to raise teacher pay or face a statewide shutdown of schools. Oklahoma teachers are nearly the lowest paid in the country. Budget cuts have forced some schools to function only four days a week.
On Wednesday, teachers in Arizona wore red to school in a spontaneous, grassroots-organized #RedforEd event to raise awareness over low pay. Educators there are also considering a strike to push for higher wages and benefits.
Meanwhile, teachers in eight Kentucky counties are holding “walk-ins” Thursday to show opposition to Senate Bill 1, a state proposal to cut teacher retirement benefits to support the state’s ailing pension fund. In these demonstrations, teachers gather in the morning and march to work in solidarity.
West Virginia teachers are not the only ones who have recently used organizing to win concessions at the bargaining table. At the end of February, teachers in Pittsburgh used the threat of a strike to push for better salaries and health care benefits. And in St. Paul, Minnesota, a strike date set by the teachers forced a favorable union contract in February.
Kentucky teachers rally over retirement cuts, warn of strike
Hundreds of teachers in central Kentucky rallied in front of public schools Thursday morning to protest proposed cuts to their retirement benefits in what could be a precursor to a statewide strike.
Kentucky state Senators on Wednesday took the first step toward passing a bill they say would save taxpayers $3.2 billion over the next 20 years and stabilize one of the country's worst-funded public pension systems. But most of those savings would come from a 33 percent cut to the annual cost-of-living raises for retired teachers, who are not eligible for Social Security benefits.
Teachers have called lawmakers and packed legislative committee rooms to show their opposition. But Thursday was the first organized protest at public schools in front of parents and students. It came just days after a nine-day statewide teacher strike in West Virginia ended when lawmakers there approved 5 percent raises. ...
Momentum is building around the nation for protests over pay and benefits for public school teachers. Teachers in Arizona are contemplating actions of their own amid growing frustration over meager pay. In Oklahoma, the president of the state's largest teachers' organization said Thursday that teachers will walk out of their classrooms April 2 if lawmakers don't approve a $6,000 raise by April 1. Teacher pay hasn't been raised by that state's legislature since 2008.
'Schools will stay closed until we get what we are asking for,' Oklahoma teachers union president says
OKLAHOMA CITY — Leaders of the Oklahoma Education Association on Thursday unveiled the specifics of their demand for $10,000 teacher pay raises and said new legislative talk of $2,000 raises would not stop public school teachers from walking out en masse on April 2.
The state’s teachers union proposal calls for a $6,000 teacher raise in year 1 and $2,000 each in years 2 and 3, for a total, three-year cost of $1.46 billion.
They also want a raise for school support workers that would cost $292.5 million by the end of those same three fiscal years.
“We cannot — no, we will not allow our students to go without any longer,” OEA President Alicia Priest said. “If the Legislature doesn’t pass $6,000 teacher pay raises and necessary revenue to pay for them, … OEA is calling on every Oklahoma teacher to leave their classroom and come to the Capitol.”
Local school boards and district administrators will ultimately determine whether to allow their teachers to participate.
State employees will join teachers in possible strike
Oklahoma state employees will join teachers in an April strike if lawmakers fail to deliver on demands for increased pay and funding.
Following a Saturday morning meeting, the Oklahoma Public Employees Association board of directors voted to move forward on a work stoppage plan if over $213 million in state employee pay raises is not approved by April 2. ...
Before the state employee union board voted to move forward on a work stoppage plan, members said the lack of an across the board pay raise in over 12 years had brought employees to a breaking point.
“They aren't just angry and disappointed … it's different this time,” said board member Mike Rogers, addressing the frustration among many state workers.
From prison guards to bridge inspectors, social service workers to child support specialists, board members said Oklahoma government employees are a critical part of the state, but low pay is driving many to seek second or third jobs to make ends meet.
'My idea was to start the conversation': Rank-and-file unknowns become powerful forces behind Oklahoma teacher walkout plans
What started as a social media group quickly became a statement
Working educators, not union leaders or politicians, rapidly elevated the idea of a widespread teacher walkout in Oklahoma from an idle threat whispered in teachers lounges to a statewide movement.
Alberto Morejon is just 25 years old and in his third year of teaching U.S. History and coaching junior varsity baseball at Stillwater Junior High School.
Barely 10 days ago, he started a Facebook group that now claims nearly 65,000 members and he was instrumental in getting the plan for a walkout moved up from April 23 to April 2.
Morejon said awareness about the possibility of teachers following through on the idea of a walkout first came from news of an online survey of superintendents by Bartlesville Superintendent Chuck McCauley.
“I definitely think he did a lot to get the ball rolling. My group just threw a ton of gas on the fire and accelerated things,” said Morejon.
The Jersey Journal
VIDEO: Students join picket line in Jersey City teacher strike
JERSEY CITY -- Students at Snyder High School say they would rather protest with their teachers outside than sit in an auditorium with nothing to do all morning.
More than 100 students lined Bergen Avenue chanting "no contract, no work" as part of the city's first teacher strike in 20 years.
"I support my teachers, even though they can be a pain in the butt sometimes when they push us to our limits, but that's what they are supposed to be doing," Marie Houghton said as she marched with teachers.
The Snyder High School student said she learned of the strike late last night and told her parents she would be joining her teachers, which they supported. Houghton said one of her teachers recently had a child and believes he is paying too much for insurance for his son. ...
Negotiations are continuing this morning for a new contract.
Observation: none of this would have gotten far in New York; the Taylor Law makes public-sector employee strikes illegal, and that law has teeth. In fact, the head of the Transport Worker's Union Local 100 was incarcerated for a week, and the union fined $2.5 million, for calling the 2005 MTA strike in New York City.
It makes me curious why other states don't have this kind of law.
It makes me curious why other states don't have this kind of law.
Jersey City teachers go on strike for the first time in 20 years
Jersey City teachers want lower health care costs and they’ve gone on strike to secure them. On Friday morning, teachers went on strike. School nurses, guidance counselors, and secretaries also joined them for the strike.
“Quality, affordable health care is a fundamental right for everyone. My members are prepared to step up and take on this fight for everyone, knowing full well that it will be a long, difficult process,” Jersey City Education Association President Ron Greco said in a statement released to media. ...
The Jersey City Education Association has met with the Jersey City Board of Education more than 20 times since May 2017 for contract negotiations, according to NJ.com. Teachers have been working under an expired contract since December.
There has been a long fight between teachers unions and state lawmakers and Gov. Chris Christie (R) over health care. In 2011, the state passed a law that unions fiercely opposed that meant health care plans for 500,000 public workers would be decided by a state panel instead of at a negotiating table. There was a sunset provision that allowed unions to bring it back to the negotiating table eventually. The implementation of those changes were staggered and depended on districts’ contracts. The law made it so that police officers, teachers, firefighters, and rank-and-file public workers would pay more for health benefits and pensions.
Under the law, employees pay anywhere from 3 percent to 35 percent of their health care premium — up from 1.5 percent — depending on their salary.
Judge orders striking teachers in Jersey City back to work on Monday; it’s uncertain if they’ll return
JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Children sitting in an auditorium watching movies all day, as their teachers marched outside, protesting; heated confrontations between picketing teachers and the substitute teachers who'd been offered double pay to replace them; police posted at every corner around schools in case tempers flared too intensely. They were all scenes of Day 1 of the teachers strike here. The question now is, will the teachers' union and the school board reach some sort of agreement. Whether or not they do anytime soon, teachers have been ordered by a judge to return to work next Monday.
On Friday, it was clear that the 3,100 educators in this school district of 31,000 students are fed up. After more than half a year without a contract, the union members decided to walk out. Between Thursday evening and Friday morning, a contract offers were sought and made, but ultimately there was an impasse between the union and the Jersey City Board of Education.
The union, which is called the Jersey City Education Association, or JCEA, informed members of the strike Thursday night, and the school board tried to notify families that Friday would be a half day of school. ...
“This afternoon,” the statement read, “the Jersey City Board of Education filed an Order to Show Cause against the JCEA. A judge has granted the district preliminary injunctive relief which orders teachers back to work for Monday. The Board remains committed to finding a resolution.”
Phoenix-area teachers plan walkout Wednesday over low pay
PHOENIX - Nine schools in a 12-school elementary school district serving parts of Avondale, Glendale and Phoenix are closed because approximately 300 teachers are teachers are participating in a protest over pay.
Pendergast Elementary School District spokeswoman Nedda Shafir says school is out for thousands of students because Wednesday's protest means the affected schools lacked enough teachers to supervise students.
Many of the teachers are at the Capitol in Phoenix to urge Gov. Doug Ducey and legislators to provide funding for teacher pay raises.
Shafir says some teachers called in sick while others took personal days.
The spokeswoman says the district supports its teachers and has provided pay raises ranging from 2 to 7 percent but did not organize or encourage the protest.