Arizona Teachers Authorize Strike
If the state doesn't meet their demands, teachers will walk on Thursday
On Thursday, teachers in yet another Right to Work Red state voted to conduct a strike if their increased salary and funding demands were not met. This time, it was teachers in Arizona.
The vote, which was held Thursday by the Arizona Education Association (AEA) which represents teachers in the state, would be the first time that the 58,000 teachers in the Grand Canyon state will have gone on strike.
Teachers demands are simple. They want a 20% salary increase over the next two years, which would bring their salaries in line with the national average, as well as state education funding to be restored to pre-recession levels. A previous plan floated by the Governor would have increased their salaries by 19% but did not provide additional funding for schools or support professionals. It also didn’t have a dedicated funding stream, causing many teachers to believe that it was just a Trojan Horse meant to prevent them from striking before the end of the school year. Researchers found that the initial plan would be underfunded by a whopping $265 Million
According to the AEA and Arizona Educators United (AEU), a grassroots group of teachers that has helped organize rallies across the state, 78% of the more than 57,000 ballots returned voted to authorize a strike. Unless progress is made, those teachers will be walking off the job on Thursday, April 26. The teachers decided to delay the strike for a week to allow the parents and students in their communities’ time to prepare alternative options for childcare.
Unlike in other states, Arizona legislatures seem to have read the Koch Brothers playbook and are already hitting back. Governor Doug Ducey and Republicans in the legislature have begun to push a narrative that teachers are being greedy by holding out for more funding and raises for their support staff.
Arizona currently has some of the lowest teachers’ salaries in the country, ranking 43rd. The average teacher makes only $47,403. Arizona teachers also say that their schools are falling apart as well as the educational tools they use to teach. Due to low wages and decreased funding the state has lost over 750 teachers in just the last two years.