School Employee Rights During a Walkout

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 Can You Hear Us Now? 

Arizona’s educators can no longer stand for the shameful funding of public education that is selling short the future of every child in our state. Funding for our public schools is $950 million below where it stood in 2008, when a decade of inflation is taken into account. 

 

When Arizona’s children are short-changed nearly a BILLION DOLLARS, these are the results: textbooks that are 25 years old, roofs that leak, school restrooms without toilet paper, rodents scampering through hallways, class sizes of as many as 40 students, outdated technology, inadequate support staff to keep students safe and systems working. And, yes, teacher and staff pay lags far below national averages, forcing many Arizona educators to take second jobs just to support their families. 

 

Our children deserve the undivided attention of the professionals who prepare them to meet the future. It’s past time that Arizona children get the schools they deserve. That requires adequate resources for all our public schools supported by a dependable revenue stream. It means balancing budgets by cutting our children out of their chance to succeed must end. If we don’t change direction, we risk throwing away an entire generation’s opportunity for academic success. 

 

That’s why AFT Arizona members are uniting with other educators, parents, and community allies to take a stand at the State Capitol for significant increases in state funding for public schools. Teachers and other schools staff from across the state have endorsed a walkout beginning this Thursday, April 26. 

Rally at the State Capitol 

To Support Arizona Public Education 

#RedforEd 

Thursday, April 26, 2018 . . . Starting at 10 a.m. 

1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix, Arizona 

 

Join thousands of Arizona educators, parents and community allies to support Arizona children and call for adequate funding of our public schools. It’s time for a solution that doesn’t short-change students. 

AFT Arizona stands united with our union brothers and sisters to fight 

for the schools Arizona students and teachers deserve. 

 

School Employee Rights During a Walkout 

  • When a school district has shut down or otherwise canceled classes, it is our legal position that school staff are not engaged in illegal strike/walkout activity. While there is no guarantee that courts will agree with this, we think there is a strong argument that if school is closed, no individual teacher can face adverse consequence as a result. 
  • School districts that are planning to close on Thursday are listed at: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-education/2018/04/23/arizona-teacher-walkout-strike-school-closures-redfored/540540002/ 
  • Arizona law does not clearly either prohibit or protect teacher strikes/walkouts. Two Arizona Attorney General memos from over 30 years ago say that because the law doesn’t grant the right to strike, that strikes are illegal. We very much disagree with this view and believe that striking is a fundamental right. However, you should know that it is possible an Arizona court would agree with the old Attorney General conclusions. 
  • Solidarity counts. The more school staff that participate in strikes/walkouts and the more support there is from school districts for strikes/walkouts and the public, the safer it will be for all school staff. This may be especially true for teachers, in light of the general shortage of certified teachers in Arizona. You should know that it is possible that the Arizona State Board of Education could try to suspend or revoke teacher certifications—though teachers would be entitled to a due-process hearing. School districts could also try to take adverse action against teachers up to and including dismissal. 
  • At-will employees may be dismissed. Many education support staff are at-will employees. They may be dismissed for any reason or for no reason, so long as the motivation for dismissal is not illegal. Contracts and district policies may grant some protections in this context. 
  • School districts that remain open may attempt to replace teachers through substitute teacher referral agencies. Those districts also may seek court orders to stop the walkouts. 

The events called for Thursday, April 26 are new to all of us in Arizona. The Arizona Federation of Teachers Local #8002 wants to do everything we can to make sure that support staff in school districts around the state do not lose their vital paychecks and that students are safe and fed during the course of actions beginning April 26. We are therefore encouraging school districts to ensure (1) that support staff receive their regular paychecks during the duration of any closure period (through alternative work assignments or otherwise) and (2) that students who rely on our schools for core sustenance can receive it (through setting up meal sites for students or otherwise). AFT Local #8002 or AFT-AZ is ready to assist with either of these. We appreciate all of the support from districts around the state and are very much hoping that we can all work together to improve our schools for our most precious assets—our students.