NewsPublic Affairs / January 29, 2019

Indiana Teachers Can't Strike, Considering Other Action To Get Pay Increase

Indiana State Teachers Association President Teresa Meredith says the governor and legislators have indicated a willingness to make progress on teacher pay and benefits. - Steve Burns/WFIU-WTIU

Indiana State Teachers Association President Teresa Meredith says the governor and legislators have indicated a willingness to make progress on teacher pay and benefits.

Steve Burns/WFIU-WTIU

The president of Indiana’s largest teacher’s union says they’re waiting to see what lawmakers do before deciding whether to take more serious action.

Indiana State Teachers Association President Teresa Meredith says the governor and legislators have indicated a willingness to make progress on teacher pay and benefits. Striking is illegal for all public employees in Indiana, including teachers.

But Meredith says it doesn’t mean teachers won’t take action if needed.

“If they do take off the table the things that they had put on the table, then it would certainly be time to regroup," she says.

Meredith says ISTA is planning a weekend rally during the middle of the legislative session.

Recently, teachers in Los Angeles County walked out of schools and protested for six days before reaching an agreement that included a 6 percent pay raise and funds for classroom support staff.

Meredith says Indiana teachers are seeking some of the same terms.

“This is not just about money, this is also about the conditions in which our students learn," she says.

IU Professor of Labor and Employment Law Kenneth Dau-Schmidt says Indiana has lower per-pupil funding than some of the states that saw strikes. He says that’s an example of something that can drive teachers to take action – even in states where striking is illegal, like Indiana.

“When the problem gets too bad, the economics of the situation tend to govern," he says.

In this year’s State of the State address, Gov. Eric Holcomb proposed using money from the state’s surplus fund to pay off the teacher pension fund – something that could allow schools to spend that money on raising teacher salaries instead.

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