A day after a vote, Gov. Polis didn’t have much to say on the potential teacher strike in Denver

The district has formally asked for the state to intervene on the labor dispute.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis speaks at the Colorado Oil and Gas Association's annual energy summit at the Colorado Convention Center, Aug. 22, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis speaks at the Colorado Oil and Gas Association's annual energy summit at the Colorado Convention Center, Aug. 22, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday didn’t say much about the looming teacher strike in Denver, instead referring reporters to a factsheet website.

During a morning appearance for the signing of an executive order related to healthcare, Polis chose to stay on-topic and provide non-answers a day after members of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association concluded a vote to strike.

Polis’ office later issued a statement on Wednesday evening after the school district requested intervention from the state. According to the statement, Polis met with both Denver Public Schools and DCTA on Wednesday.

“At this point, the Governor has not made a decision to intervene,” the statement from Polis’ office said. “The Governor and the Department of Labor and Employment will continue to engage both sides and encourage both sides to return to the table and continue Negotiating on a path forward.

Ninety-three percent of DCTA members who voted supported the strike, according to Chalkbeat. The members voted on Saturday and Tuesday.

The disagreement between the two stems from over creating a new ProComp agreement, a system using funds raised through taxes to provide bonuses and salary increases for teachers. The two disagreed on how much additional funding should be added to the agreement.

On Wednesday, Polis was asked twice about the situation by reporters. One asked if he would intervene. He and his staff referred reporters to factsheet.cdle.co, which provides information on state intervention in the process.

“We’re also confirming that later today I will be meeting with both sides to see if we can play a role in bringing them together,” Polis said. He answered a second question on the issue by reiterating that healthcare costs are high even for public sector employees.

On Wednesday afternoon, the school district announced they had formally requested intervention from the state.

DPS is asking the Colorado Department of Labor to intervene in response to the DCTA’s Notice of Intent to Strike. In a statement on Wednesday, the district said they will keep asking DCTA to return to the negotiating table to continue their discussions.

According to the statement from Polis’ office, DCTA has up to ten days to respond to the request.

“Once the Denver Classroom Teachers Association responds, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment will review the facts and will make a decision on whether or not to intervene within fourteen days,” the statement from Polis’ office said.

The 19-page document formally requesting the intervention includes a list of potential effects of a teacher strike.

“The list includes loss of instructional time from teachers on strike, disruption of students’ ability to receive food and medical care services, as well as creating a financial hardship on DPS families,” the district’s statement said. “DPS officials also are concerned that a strike would substantially affect the public interest because a strike would deeply affect the culture of our schools long after the strike is over, including affecting the ability of the school district to hire teachers.”

The teacher strike would be the first since 1994. It could start as soon as Monday.

In a statement released Tuesday, DCTA President Henry Roman called the strike “the last resort.”

“Denver teachers want to be in their classrooms with their students, not out on strike,” Roman said in the statement. “But we have reached the tipping point in our negotiations with DPS where we must stand up for our profession and for our students and do what is best to keep dedicated, experienced teachers in this district.”

This story has been updated to include new statements from Gov. Polis’ office. 

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