Denver teachers voting on a possible strike after compensation negotiations fail

Posted at 5:33 PM, Jan 19, 2019

DENVER -- After a full week of ongoing negotiations and months of bargaining, Denver Public Schools (DPS) teachers are voting on a possible strike after a late night of unsuccessful compensation negotiations on Friday.

The Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) held a strike vote at Riverside Church in the Highlands from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Another vote will be held at the Knights of Columbus (1555 Grant St.) from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m on Tuesday, Jan. 22. If the vote’s majority is "yes" towards a strike, it could mark the district's first strike in 25 years.

“Now is the time, enough is enough,” said Amber Wilson, teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School.

Wilson said she's tired of dealing with financial instability as a teacher in DPS.

“I didn't expect in my later 30s and early 40s to still be waiting on baited breath for my paycheck to come at the end of the month,” said Wilson. “We need a predictable salary schedule so our educators know transparently what they are going to make over the course of their career so they can plan for a life in Denver.”

There's an $8.5 million dollar difference between the proposals outlined by DCTA and DPS.

"Its only 1 percent of their entire budget, less than 1 percent to give us that $8 million to get our teachers where they need to be,” said Wilson.

DPS Superintendent Susana Cordova said there are certain places where the sides agree, but also pointed out areas where the district is not willing to change its mind.

“The differences in our proposals and where we will not compromise is on ensuring that we have funds to pay the teachers who work in our highest poverty schools,” said Cordova.

The current proposal from DPS would raise teacher salaries on average by 10 percent, but some teachers believe that is still not enough.

“It’s been difficult just knowing that if a strike does come to pass, that we are going to have no income for the period that that lasts,” said Mark Mallaney, a teacher at Denver School of the Arts High School. “Right now its getting harder and harder to live and work as a teacher in Denver.”

Cordova said the district is willing to continue negotiations.

“We think it is critically, critically important that we get to an agreement,” said Cordova.

The results of the strike vote won’t be released until mid-week, after Tuesday night’s vote concludes. Teachers said they still plan to be at school this next week when school is in session.