DENVER — Denver teachers have put their cards on the table and their union president said it may be time to take a stand. According to Henry Roman, President of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, the district has got the money they want.
Roman said teachers are willing to fight for higher base salaries, a simplified pay system, and rewards for professional development even if it means walking out on the job for the first time since 1994.
"Obviously, our goal is to get a contract," Roman said. "We're going to work hard to do that. But, if that doesn't happen, a strike is definitely an option."
Jan. 18 is when the current contract expires. Jan. 19 would be the day for the strike vote by union members. Jan. 28 would be the earliest possible day teachers could strike.
"It's about time to make those changes," Roman said.
Denver Public Schools is working hard to prevent a strike, according to Superintendent Susana Cordova.
"We have four more full days of negotiations," Cordova said. "That's a lot of time for us to continue to have a conversation."
By law, if the union votes to strike, DPS can ask the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to intervene which means further negotiation or mediation can be ordered before allowing a strike. Cordova said the district would do that and turn to Gov. Jared Polis for help.
"Of course, we would love to avoid a strike in the coming days," Polis said. "I expect to be talking to union representatives as well as the superintendent's office to do what we can to bring the sides together."
If both sides don't come together, Cordova said schools will remain open during a strike by using substitutes, licensed educators currently not in the classroom and teachers willing to cross the strike line.
"Our students don't have the time for us not to be serving them," Cordova said.
Roman said teachers don't have the time to not get what they deserve.
"It has to work. It has to work," Roman said.
The school district and the teachers union resume negotiations Friday. The last DPS teachers strike in 1994 lasted five days just like the teachers strike in Pueblo last year.
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