Bill to punish striking teachers goes to Colorado Senate committee

By KKTV/Kyla Galer |

DENVER (KKTV) – A bill aiming to prevent public school teachers from striking heads to a Senate committee Monday.

The bill was introduced by two El Paso County lawmakers earlier in the month, as teacher call-outs were picking up steam. Teachers across the state have been using sick days and unpaid leave to call out of school and rally for better pay, retirement benefits and increased funding for education. A formal strike is looming in Pueblo District 60.

If the lawmakers behind the bill get their way, striking teachers could face termination, a $500 per day fine, or even up to six months of jail time.

Colorado Sen. Bob Gardner told 11 News sister station KCNC that the bill only affects teachers and unions who strike in defiance of a court order.

Gardner says strikes hurt students and their families. The more than 10,000 teachers who rallied at the Colorado Capitol Friday disagree.

“We’re underfunded, we’re working with materials that are out of date, we’re working with broken items, maybe not enough items for kids in classrooms,” said Lynne Swanson, a teacher at Goodnight Elementary School in Pueblo.

Swanson said it was important for teachers to band together to “really voice what is going on in our classrooms and schools and how important it is for us to get some help.”

Gardner told KCNC the bill wouldn’t have affected the teachers rallying Friday.

The bill is currently in the early stages, having just been introduced. Lawmakers will discuss it in a Senate committee hearing, and there’s no guarantee it moves on from there.

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