Denver teachers go on strike after failing to reach pay deal

DENVER (AP) — Denver teachers went on strike Monday after failing to reach a deal with administrators on pay in the latest example of educator discontent, following a wave of walkouts over the last year.

Denver's teachers started picketing before the start of the school day and students crossed through the picket lines on their way to class in some locations. Students in at least one school walked out of class and demonstrated in support of their teachers.

The city's schools will remain open during the strike and will be staffed by administrators and substitute teachers, the school district said. But classes for 5,000 preschool children were canceled because the district does not have the staff to take care of them.

Union leaders told reporters they were frustrated with failed talks over the weekend aimed at reaching a deal. Union president Henry Roman said teachers were committed to reaching a deal but said that both sides needed a cooling off period. Another negotiation session is expected on Tuesday.

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Rebecca Basal uses a bullhorn to lead fellow striking teachers in a chant as they walk a picket line outside the school early Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Denver. The strike on Monday is the first for teachers in Colorado in 25 years after failed negotiations with the school district over base pay. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Teachers carry placards as they walk a picket line outside South High School early Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Denver. The strike on Monday is the first for teachers in Colorado in 25 years after failed negotiations with the school district over base pay. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Teachers carry placards as they walk a picket line outside South High School early Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Denver. The strike on Monday is the first for teachers in Colorado in 25 years after failed negotiations with the school district over base pay. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Teachers carry placards as they walk a picket line outside South High School early Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Denver. The strike on Monday is the first for teachers in Colorado in 25 years after failed negotiations with the school district over base pay. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Ollie wears a protest sign as his owner, Ryan Marini, walks a picket line outside the school where he works as a teacher, South High School, early Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Denver. The strike on Monday is the first for teachers in Colorado in 25 years after failed negotiations with the school district over base pay. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Teachers carry placards as they walk a picket line outside South High School early Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Denver. The strike on Monday is the first for teachers in Colorado in 25 years after failed negotiations with the school district over base pay. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019, file photo, teachers from the Denver Public Schools carry placards as they wait to march after a rally in support of a strike outside the State Capitol in Denver. Denver teachers are planning to strike Monday, Feb. 11, 2019 after failed negotiations with the school district over base pay. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
Teachers carry placards as they walk a picket line outside South High School early Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Denver. The strike on Monday is the first for teachers in Colorado in 25 years after failed negotiations with the school district over base pay. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
FILE- In this Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019 file photo, Margaret Flynn, front, a 7th-grade teacher in Denver Public Schools, leads other teachers in a march during a rally outside the state Capitol in Denver. Denver teachers are vowing to walk off the job Monday, Feb. 11, unless they can reach a last-minute pay agreement with school leaders. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 30, 2019, file photo, Denver Public Schools teachers rally outside the State Capitol in Denver. Denver teachers are planning to strike Monday, Feb. 11, 2019 after failed negotiations with the school district over base pay. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 30, 2019, file photo, Denver Public Schools teachers carry placards as they wait to march after a rally in support of a strike outside the State Capitol in Denver. Teachers plan to strike next week after Colorado officials declined to intervene in a pay dispute between the educators and the school district. State officials said Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, they believe the two sides are close to a negotiated agreement. Gov. Jared Polis said he expects the Denver Public Schools system and the union representing teachers to keep talking through the week to try to avoid a strike. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
A teacher holds a placard during a rally by teachers from the Denver Public Schools outside the State Capitol late Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019, in Denver. Teachers have authorized a strike for the first time in 25 years but bargaining is set to resume Thursday while both sides wait on word to see if Colorado Gov. Jared Polis will enter into the pay dispute. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019, file photo, teachers from the Denver Public Schools march away from the State Capitol after a rally in support of a strike against the school district in Denver. Denver's school district and teachers are resuming contract negotiations for the first time since teachers voted to strike. Superintendent Susana Cordova says the district will present a new proposal when both sides meet Thursday evening. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: Aiden Beatty, a Ralston Valley senior, stands in solidarity with East High School teachers during a Denver Public Schools teachers strike on Monday, February 11, 2019. Some 2,100 educators did not report for work on Monday during day one of the first DPS strike in 25 years. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: East High School teachers are reflected in a window beneath a sign bearing a quote by Michelle Obama reading, 'There are still many causes worth sacrificing for, so much history yet to be made,' during a Denver Public Schools teachers strike on Monday, February 11, 2019. Some 2,100 educators did not report for work on Monday during day one of the first DPS strike in 25 years. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: Art teacher Laura Klein wears a decretive headband as she pickets with fellow East High School Teachers during a Denver Public Schools teachers strike on Monday, February 11, 2019. Some 2,100 educators did not report for work on Monday during day one of the first DPS strike in 25 years. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: CU Boulder graduate worker Gregor Robinson stands in solidarity with East High School teachers during a Denver Public Schools teachers strike on Monday, February 11, 2019. Some 2,100 educators did not report for work on Monday during day one of the first DPS strike in 25 years. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: East High School teachers picket during a Denver Public Schools teachers strike on Monday, February 11, 2019. Some 2,100 educators did not report for work on Monday during day one of the first DPS strike in 25 years. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: East High School sophomores Waverly Reeves (left) and Annika Shassetz march with teachers during a Denver Public Schools teachers strike on Monday, February 11, 2019. Some 2,100 educators did not report for work on Monday during day one of the first DPS strike in 25 years. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: East High school teachers, students and supports picket in front of the school during a Denver Public Schools teachers strike on Monday, February 11, 2019. Some 2,100 educators did not report for work on Monday during day one of the first DPS strike in 25 years. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: A curious dog watches as educators picket during a Denver Public Schools teachers strike on Monday, February 11, 2019. Some 2,100 educators did not report for work on Monday during day one of the first DPS strike in 25 years. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: Senior Matt Pence holds a speaker over his head as it blares Public Enemy's seminal hit 'Fight the Power,' as East High School teachers picket during a Denver Public Schools teachers strike on Monday, February 11, 2019. Some 2,100 educators did not report for work on Monday during day one of the first DPS strike in 25 years. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: East High School students stand in support of teachers during a Denver Public Schools teachers strike on Monday, February 11, 2019. Some students walked out due to lack of organization and structure within the school, while others simply chose to walk out in support. Some 2,100 educators did not report for work on Monday during day one of the first DPS strike in 25 years. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: East High School teachers picket during a Denver Public Schools teachers strike on Monday, February 11, 2019. Some 2,100 educators did not report for work on Monday during day one of the first DPS strike in 25 years. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: Spanish teacher Lauren Tauchman leads a chant as teachers picket at East High School during a Denver Public Schools teachers strike on Monday, February 11, 2019. Some 2,100 educators did not report for work on Monday during day one of the first DPS strike in 25 years. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: Spanish teacher Lauren Tauchman leads a chant as teachers picket at East High School during a Denver Public Schools teachers strike on Monday, February 11, 2019. Some 2,100 educators did not report for work on Monday during day one of the first DPS strike in 25 years. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: Students arrive for classes as teachers picket at East High School during a Denver Public Schools teachers strike on Monday, February 11, 2019. Some 2,100 educators did not report for work on Monday during day one of the first DPS strike in 25 years. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: Denver teachers, students and community members picket outside South High School on February 11, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. Denver teachers are striking for the first time in 25 years after the school district and the union representing the educators failed to reach an agreement after 14 months of contract negations over teacher pay. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: Teachers picket in front of East High School during a Denver Public Schools teachers strike on Monday, February 11, 2019. Some 2,100 educators did not report for work on Monday during day one of the first DPS strike in 25 years. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: Denver teachers, students and community members picket outside South High School on February 11, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. Denver teachers are striking for the first time in 25 years after the school district and the union representing the educators failed to reach an agreement after 14 months of contract negations over teacher pay. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: Denver teachers, students and community members picket outside South High School on February 11, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. Denver teachers are striking for the first time in 25 years after the school district and the union representing the educators failed to reach an agreement after 14 months of contract negations over teacher pay. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: South High School freshman Adelaide Funnell, right, holds a sign as she joins her teachers on the picket line outside the school on February 11, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. Denver teachers are striking for the first time in 25 years after the school district and the union representing the educators failed to reach an agreement after 14 months of contract negations over teacher pay. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: South High School seniors Johnny Hultzapple, left, Aislinn Thompson, center, and Esperanza Soledad Garcia, right, lead students on a walkout to join their striking teachers on the picket line on February 11, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. Denver teachers are striking for the first time in 25 years after the school district and the union representing the educators failed to reach an agreement after 14 months of contract negations over teacher pay. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: South High School students cheer as they join their teachers on the picket line outside the school on February 11, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. Denver teachers are striking for the first time in 25 years after the school district and the union representing the educators failed to reach an agreement after 14 months of contract negations over teacher pay. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: Denver teachers, students and community members picket outside South High School on February 11, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. Denver teachers are striking for the first time in 25 years after the school district and the union representing the educators failed to reach an agreement after 14 months of contract negations over teacher pay. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: A South High School student cheers from the shoulders of another student as they stage a walkout in support of their striking teachers on February 11, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. Denver teachers are striking for the first time in 25 years after the school district and the union representing the educators failed to reach an agreement after 14 months of contract negations over teacher pay. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: South High School students hold signs and cheer as they stage a walkout in support of their striking teachers on February 11, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. Denver teachers are striking for the first time in 25 years after the school district and the union representing the educators failed to reach an agreement after 14 months of contract negations over teacher pay. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: A South High School student cheers from the shoulders of another student as they stage a walkout in support of their striking teachers on February 11, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. Denver teachers are striking for the first time in 25 years after the school district and the union representing the educators failed to reach an agreement after 14 months of contract negations over teacher pay. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: Karmen Kirtley, who has been a teacher for 18 years, pickets outside South High School on February 11, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. Denver teachers are striking for the first time in 25 years after the school district and the union representing the educators failed to reach an agreement after 14 months of contract negations over teacher pay. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: South High School students stage a walkout in support of their striking teachers on February 11, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. Denver teachers are striking for the first time in 25 years after the school district and the union representing the educators failed to reach an agreement after 14 months of contract negations over teacher pay. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: Denver teachers, students and community members picket outside South High School on February 11, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. Denver teachers are striking for the first time in 25 years after the school district and the union representing the educators failed to reach an agreement after 14 months of contract negations over teacher pay. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: Denver teachers, students and community members picket outside South High School on February 11, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. Denver teachers are striking for the first time in 25 years after the school district and the union representing the educators failed to reach an agreement after 14 months of contract negations over teacher pay. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: South High School ninth grade teacher Tessa Zatorski, left, chants while picketing outside South High School on February 11, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. Denver teachers are striking for the first time in 25 years after the school district and the union representing the educators failed to reach an agreement after 14 months of contract negations over teacher pay. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
DENVER CO - FEBRUARY 11: Denver teacher strike outside South High School on February 11, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER CO - FEBRUARY 11: A Denver teacher brought his dog during the strike outside South High School on February 11, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: Denver Public Schools teachers and members of the community picket outside South High School on February 11, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. Denver teachers are striking for the first time in 25 years after the school district and the union representing the educators failed to reach an agreement after 14 months of contract negations over teacher pay. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: Denver Public Schools teachers and members of the community picket outside South High School on February 11, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. Denver teachers are striking for the first time in 25 years after the school district and the union representing the educators failed to reach an agreement after 14 months of contract negations over teacher pay. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: Denver Public Schools teachers and members of the community picket outside South High School on February 11, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. Denver teachers are striking for the first time in 25 years after the school district and the union representing the educators failed to reach an agreement after 14 months of contract negations over teacher pay. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: Denver Public Schools teachers and members of the community picket outside South High School on February 11, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. Denver teachers are striking for the first time in 25 years after the school district and the union representing the educators failed to reach an agreement after 14 months of contract negations over teacher pay. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: Denver high school social studies teacher Nick Childers chants as teachers picket outside South High School on February 11, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. Denver teachers are striking for the first time in 25 years after the school district and the union representing the educators failed to reach an agreement after 14 months of contract negations over teacher pay. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 11: Denver Classroom Teachers Association president Henry Roman, left, and lead negotiator for DCTA Rob Gould, right, talk to the media outside South High School on February 11, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. Denver teachers are striking for the first time in 25 years after the school district and the union representing the educators failed to reach an agreement after 14 months of contract negations over teacher pay. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
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"They need us. They need our labor, they need our minds, they need our talents to really make it happen," lead union negotiator Rob Gould said.

The strike for Denver's more than 4,000 teachers is their first in 25 years. It comes after teachers walked off the job in Arizona and West Virginia last year and Los Angeles teachers went on strike last month.

The Los Angeles teachers ended up getting the same 6 percent raise offered early on by the nation's second-largest school district. However, they also sought and won promises for smaller class sizes and adding more nurses and counselors.

In Denver, the main sticking points in the talks over a contract governing an incentive pay system are lowering bonuses to put more money in teachers' base pay and how to allow teachers to advance in pay based on education and training, the norm in most school districts.

The union pushed for lower bonuses for high-poverty and high-priority schools to free up more money for overall teacher pay and criticized the district for spending too much money on administration. However, the district sees those particular bonuses as key to boosting the academic performance of poor and minority students.

Some teachers argue that spending money on smaller class sizes and adding support staff, like counselors, is the best way to help disadvantaged students learn and make them good schools for teachers to work in.

Denver teachers say that the non-traditional pay system in the district leads to high turnover, which they say hurts students. They also hope that a win on pay will help them when it comes time to negotiate other issues when their overall contract expires in two years.

The state says a walkout will cost about $400,000 a day and would consume 1 to 2 percent of the district's annual operating budget in about a week. In encouraging both sides to come to an agreement, Gov. Jared Polis has pointed out that this money will no longer be available to help pay teachers once it is spent on the strike.

While teachers in some states are barred from striking, teachers in Colorado have a qualified right to walk off the job. As required by state law, teachers gave notice last month that they planned to strike. But the walkout was put on hold because the school district asked the state to intervene.

The strike was on again after the administration of Polis, a Democrat, decided last week not get involved, believing the positions of both sides were not that far apart.

However, Polis said the state could decide to intervene — and suspend the strike for up to 180 days — if the walkout drags on.

The state does not have the power to impose any deal on either side. But it can try to help the union and school district reach a deal and can require them participate in a fact-finding process

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