Here the Teachers will not Strike!
Texas: Teachers in states across the nation are going on strike to protest funding cuts for public education. But a Texas law is quashing talk of teachers here joining the walkouts. The statute says any employees who "strike or engage in an organized work stoppage against the state or a political subdivision of the state" will lose all their "civil service rights, reemployment rights, and any other rights, benefits, and privileges the employee enjoys as a result of public employment or former public employment."
While supportive of the movements happening in other states, several Texas teachers associations are encouraging their members to refrain from leaving their classrooms and going on strike. Doing so, advocates say, could result in having their teaching certificates and Teacher Retirement System benefits permanently revoked.
The demonstrations started last month in West Virginia when educators from across the state participated in a nine-day strike that ended after Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, signed a bill approving a 5 percent pay raise for state employees.
Experts say one reason the statute is in place is to help differentiate public employees, who are funded by taxpayer dollars, from those who work in the private sector. It also aims to ensure that the government runs in all economic weather. Some advocates for the statute say it helps make sure teachers are in the classroom during the school day.
But even if Texas teachers were to strike now, lawmakers aren’t around to respond to their demands. But, there are other avenues teachers can utilize if they want to protest, including contacting their legislators and writing their local newspaper.
Texas isn't the only state with anti-strike laws on the books. Florida and North Carolina also prohibit strikes by public employees. Oklahoma law prohibits teachers unions from going on strike or threatening to strike “as a means of resolving differences with the board of education.” And in Kentucky, where strikes by school employees are illegal, teachers are using their sick days to call out of work and protest.
In lieu of striking, Texas teacher associations are asking their members to make their voices heard at the polls. A well-publicized push for teachers to vote during the March 6 primaries ended up with disappointing numbers for education advocates, but they say they're working to build political clout over the next several election cycles.