IB-2004-I (April 2004)
Author: Ben DeGrow
In October 1994, more than 2,000 members of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) went on a week long strike for larger salary increases and greater control of working conditions. A Denver district court judge sanctioned the strike as legal and left the Denver Public Schools (DPS) board of education and the DCTA to negotiate a settlement on their own.
The final point keeping the parties from reaching an agreement was paid amnesty for the striking teachers. The DCTA wanted to give all participating teachers five extra work days to make up for the pay they lost while protesting outside the classroom. The school board argued there was not enough money to add any workdays. In the end the two side agreed to add in-service days. The new contract obligated DPS to pay as much as $2.1 million in additional taxpayer dollars for the in-service days.
Eight states have statutes denying compensation to public employee strikers, even though such strikes are legal in two of those states. Among the eight states with statutes denying public employees strike pay, Massachusetts and Michigan go a step further: they forbid public employee compensation or work time to make up for wages lost because of participation in a strike Colorado has no such law.