Ready-to-Strike Denver Teachers to Rally Today, Negotiate With DPS Tomorrow

A photo from the Denver Classroom Teachers Association Facebook page.
A photo from the Denver Classroom Teachers Association Facebook page. Facebook
It's going to be a busy couple of days for the Denver Classroom Teachers Association union, whose members have overwhelmingly voted to strike against Denver Public Schools.

First, the DCTA formally responded to a DPS request that the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment block a walkout by asking that the state refrain from interfering.

Then the union made plans to rally today, January 30, on the steps of the State Capitol. And finally, the association has agreed to a renewed negotiation session with the school district tomorrow.

During an interview with Westword published on January 22, union negotiator Rob Gould foresaw the DPS's reaction in the event of a vote to strike. He predicted that "the district will contact the Department of Labor, and that may push us back some time as we work with them." He didn't object to such a development, stressing, "We want to talk. Nobody wants a strike."

DCTA chief negotiator Rob Gould in a Facebook video explaining why he voted to strike. - FACEBOOK
DCTA chief negotiator Rob Gould in a Facebook video explaining why he voted to strike.
Nonetheless, the union acted quickly when faced with potential state intervention. Here's an excerpt from its Labor Department response:
The DCTA bargaining unit, which is comprised of 5,700 teachers and specialized service providers (“SSPs”), including licensed nurses, has spent years attempting to come to agreement with DPS on a fair and comprehensible salary schedule. DCTA members are in a precarious situation, having voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, and yet continuing to work under the oppressive scrutiny of an employer whose heavy-handed attempts to intimidate and discourage them from exercising their legal right to participate in a work stoppage grows more intense by the day. For that reason, and for the reasons more fully set forth herein, DCTA urges the Director not to intervene, and to issue a forthwith order freeing the educators to exercise their right to strike.
In the meantime, students across the district have voiced their support for teachers, whose main issues focus on pay.

See the following video, in which one teen from East High School asks the following questions of the district: "What is executive management? Why are there 38 people in DPS with this title, and why are they making at least $136,000 a year?"

A twist arrived on January 29, when Chalkbeat reported that the union and the district would renew negotiations on the 31st.

A post shared at 5:55 p.m. yesterday on the DCTA Facebook page pushed back against this assertion. It reads: "Despite a report by Chalkbeat, we have not confirmed a bargaining date with the District. DPS suggested Tuesday or Wednesday to our team on Sunday, but our team was not available until Thursday. We are waiting for a response from them about that date. We will announce as soon as we finalize a date and location."

Seven minutes later, at 6:02 p.m., a new post pivoted. "Well, look at that," it begins. "We just got an email from DPS confirming bargaining on Thursday. Apparently, communicating with the press was more important for them. Can't wait to see everyone at Acoma beginning at 5 p.m. on Thursday."

The reference above is to 1617 South Acoma Street, where the get-together will take place for what is currently scheduled as a three-hour conversation. "This meeting will be open to the public and all are encouraged to attend," the Facebook events page for the gathering stresses.

In the meantime, what's been dubbed the "DCTA Strong Rally and March" is expected to get under way at 4:30 p.m. today. The intro to the demonstration's page reads: "We will meet on the west steps of the Capitol to demand fair pay for educators! March to central administration begins at 5. Wear your red for ed and your signs! It’s a great idea to carpool or take public transport, if possible. See you there!"

Click to read the Denver Classroom Teachers Association response to the Division of Labor and supporting exhibits.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts