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Weeks After Statewide Protests, Teachers in One Colorado City Are on Strike

Weeks after thousands of Colorado teachers stormed the state capitol, educators in the city of Pueblo are going on strike.

Teachers in the 17,000-student school district are picketing for a 2 percent pay raise and better benefits. This is Colorado's first teacher strike in 24 years. 

"I think we are just saying, enough is enough," Pueblo Education Association president Suzanne Ethredge told the Denver Post. Teachers in the school district have been without a formal contract since August as negotiations stalled. 

The Pueblo school district is facing a $3.6 million deficit this year, and officials have said they cannot afford a teacher pay raise this year. Officials said that when the district moves to a four-day school week next year, it will be more financially stable and there could be raises for teachers then, according to the Post. Teachers in the Pueblo district earn an average of $47,617—less than the state average of about $51,808. 


Related: See How Your State's Average Teacher Salary Compares


Ethredge said she hopes this strike won't last more than three to five days. Pueblo teachers joined thousands of other Colorado educators last month as they marched to the state capitol to ask for more school funding, causing dozens of school closures. 

There have been statewide teacher strikes this spring in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona—a wave of labor activism that experts have called unprecedented for the education sector. All of the strikes have centered around demands for higher pay and more school funding.

North Carolina teachers have announced that they are planning to take leave on May 16 to protest in the state capitol, forcing school districts across the state to cancel classes. 

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, support staff workers are planning a 24-hour strike on May 15. The union that represents the 30,000 Los Angeles Unified district support staff—school bus drivers, custodians, special education assistants, teacher assistants, health aides, and cafeteria workers—has been negotiating with the district for over a year, but the two sides were unable to come to an agreement over a contract, according to the Los Angeles Times. The union claims the district is engaging in unfair labor practices—for example, the district had cut the hours of more than 125 special education assistants without notifying the union. 

About 94 percent of the 11,000 workers who cast a vote last month wanted to strike, the Times reported.

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