Colorado Senate bill would punish teachers with fines, jail time if they go on strike

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DENVER -- A bill introduced in the Colorado Senate last week would punish teachers who go on strike with fines or up to six months in jail.

SB18-264 would prohibit public school teachers from going on strike by allowing districts to seek an injunction from the district court.

“The event of a strike or the imminent threat of a strike in violation of the bill, the public school employer is authorized to seek an injunction from the district court,” the bill states.

“Failure by a public school teacher or teacher organization to comply with the injunction constitutes contempt of court and may be punished with fines or up to six months in county jail, or both.”

The bill also states that if the accused teachers doesn't comply with that sentence, the school could immediately terminate them without a hearing.

Under the bill, if a teacher organization doesn't comply, any collective bargaining agreement is voided.

The bill is sponsored by State Rep. Paul Lundeen and Sen. Bob Gardner, both Republicans.

Several Colorado school districts will be closed on Thursday and Friday as teachers continue to call for higher pay, more classroom funding and better protections for their retirement plans.

The closings impact more than 200 schools and more than 300,000 students and parents.

Last week, a few hundred teachers rallied at the state Capitol. The walkouts this week are expected to be much larger.

Colorado ranks near the bottom nationally in terms of teach pay with an annual salary of about $46,000.

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