Colorado Republicans Seek To Criminalize Strikes By Public School Teachers

Screengrab/PBS Newshour/YouTube

Colorado teachers who strike could face fines and up to six months in jail, as well as an on-the-spot firing.

As teachers strikes continue making waves across the U.S., Republican lawmakers in Colorado introduced a bill Friday that would essentially criminalize teachers strikes and even go so far as jail educators who don’t play by the new rules.

Via Denver 7:

The bill, SB18-264, would prohibit public school teacher strikes by authorizing school districts to seek an injunction from district court. A failure to comply with the injunction would “constitute contempt of court” and teachers could face not only fines but up to six months in county jail, the bill language reads.

School districts would also have the ability to fire teachers who are found in contempt of court -- without a hearing -- and stipulates they may not receive pay “for any day which the public school teacher participates in a strike.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Johnston said the bill, sponsored by two Republican lawmakers, is a “tactic designed to distract from the challenges facing Colorado’s education system rather than solving them.”

“Teachers across the country, from West Virginia and Oklahoma to Arizona and here in Colorado, are speaking up for themselves and their students. We need to listen to teachers now more than ever. This legislation attempts to silence their voices rather than working to address their concerns. As Governor, I will make sure that teachers are heard, not thrown in jail for exercising their rights,” Johnston said in a statement sent to Denver7.

Public school teachers in Colorado are slated to walk out of their classrooms Thursday and Friday, demanding increased wages and education funding.

According to Denver 7, teacher pay in the state ranks 46th, and presently lawmakers are underfunding education by $800 million each year.