By Melanie Asmar, Erica Metzler and Yesenia Robles
Denver teachers voted overwhelmingly to go on strike for the first time in 25 years. Amid a national wave of teacher activism, they’re seeking higher pay and also a fundamental change in how the district compensates educators.
Because of state rules, Monday is the earliest a Denver strike could start.
Ninety-three percent of the teachers and other instructional staff members who voted in a union election Saturday and Tuesday were in favor of a strike, according to the Denver Classroom Teachers Association. That surpassed the two-thirds majority needed for a strike to happen.
“They’re striking for better pay, they’re striking for our profession, and they’re striking for Denver students,” said teacher Rob Gould, a member of the union’s negotiation team who announced the strike vote results Tuesday night.
Denver Public Schools Superintendent Susana Cordova has pledged to keep schools open if teachers walk out. The district is actively recruiting substitute teachers to fill in during a strike. It is offering to pay them $200 a day, which is double the normal rate.
Cordova has said she’ll ask state officials to intervene to delay a strike. The Department of Labor and Employment cannot impose an agreement but can provide mediation or hold hearings to try to bring about a resolution.
A spokeswoman for Gov. Jared Polis said Wednesday that Denver Public Schools had yet to formally request that the state intervene in the situation. Polis said he and state labor officials will meet with the district and teachers on Wednesday to try and broker a deal.
“Later today I will be meeting with both sides to see if we can play a role in bringing them together,” Polis told reporters.
The governor declined to comment on the particulars of the strike vote or contract offer, only confirming that a meeting with both sides will take place.
Colorado Sun staff writer Jesse Paul contributed to this report.
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