Bill to punish striking teachers not moving forward

Photo courtesy: MGN
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DENVER (KKTV) - A bill aiming to prevent public school teachers from striking was dead on arrival in a Colorado Senate committee.

The bill was introduced by two El Paso County lawmakers earlier in April as teacher call-outs were picking up steam. It was tabled Monday due to lack of attention, said state Sen. Bob Gardner, one of the bill's sponsors.

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

Gardner told 11 News sister station KCNC last week that the bill would have only affected teachers and unions who strike in defiance of a court order.

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.

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"We're underfunded, we're working with materials that are out of date, we're working with broken items, maybe not enough items for kids in classrooms," said Lynne Swanson, a teacher at Goodnight Elementary School in Pueblo.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