Arizona teachers vote to go on first statewide strike

Casey Quinlan Think Progress

Arizona teachers plan to go on strike next week.

After three days of voting, on Thursday, Arizona Education Association (AEA) and Arizona Educators United (AEU), a coalition of educators, administrations, and education support professionals, announced that teachers won’t be coming into work on April 26.

According to AEA President Joe Thomas, 78 percent of school employees supported a walkout.

Gov. Doug Ducey (R) announced a proposal last week to raise teacher pay by 20 percent by 2020, but teachers said it doesn’t address larger issues with cuts to education funding since the recession or large classroom sizes. Parents have also chimed in to say that they oppose a proposal that does not include a long-term solution.

Arizona Parent Teacher Association President Beth Simek said, “As a voice for children, we hope to see the governor and this legislature find a sustainable, long-term permanent funding source that does not hurt others in the process.”

Arizona’s education funding experienced severe cuts since the Great Recession. State funding per student fell by 36.6 percent between 2008 and 2015, more than any other state. Teachers are also leaving the state for smaller class sizes and higher salaries, leaving many vacancies.

Striking teachers want a 20 percent raise in addition to implementing a permanent salary structure, competitive pay for educational support staff, no new tax cuts until the state’s per pupil funding reaches the national average, and restoration of education funding to 2008 levels.

Gov. Ducey (R) tweeted minutes after AEA and AEU’s announcement on Thursday and said that “No one wants to see teachers strike” and that “kids are the ones who lose out.”

But teachers say they are walking out to support students and their education, and that although they don’t want to leave their classrooms, this action is necessary.

“None of us went to school, none of us spent money on tuition, on books, none of us spend our time and our energy to not care,” Nancy Maglio, a teacher at Magee Middle School, told ABC News. “I am eagerly anticipating the walkout, but I’m not eagerly anticipating leaving my students.”

There will also be walk-ins at schools on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, according to ABC15. Communities supporting the strike, such as parent-teacher associations, plan to prepare meals for kids who won’t be in school.

There are risks to what is reportedly Arizona’s first statewide teachers walkout, however. Arizona Education Association informed members of an opinion by Arizona Attorney General Gary Nelson in 1971 that said strikes by public employees are forbidden. Nelson said that state law indicates a striking teacher has effectively resigned, Arizona Capitol Times explained, and that since it is illegal in Arizona to resign without getting local school board approval, the state Board of Education could revoke their teaching certificate.

Derek Harris, one of the teachers who is on the leadership team of Arizona Educators United, said on the dangers of striking, “We’ve worked on the assumption that they can’t fire all of us. If it was that easy to replace everybody, we wouldn’t have 2,000 teacher jobs unfilled.”

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Reposted from Think Progress

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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