Teachers in Kentucky are on wildcat strike today with at least eight school districts closing schools due to lack of teaching staff.
The legislature passed the bill yesterday evening based on a draft that no-one had seen until yesterday afternoon. Teachers had shouted "do the right thing" in protests at the Capitol building as the bill was being discussed. The bill would leave benefits for retired and current teachers intact, while new employees would be moved to a different pension scheme in which the state is entitled claw back 15% of any growth in their pension plan over and above contributions.
The creation of a two-tier workforce is a common tactic to divide workers and undermine strike action, opening the door to further attacks on the whole workforce later on. This wildcat an encouraging sign of solidarity from people who would not be immediately affected by the change.
The wildcat in Kentucky follows the weeks long strike of teachers, then communications workers, in West Virginia, as well as narrowly averted teachers strikes in Pittsburgh in March. Oklahoma teachers are also likely to strike next week rejecting a last minute deal by the state legislature that fell well short of their demands. Arizona teachers rallied on Wednesday for a 20% pay rise.
The US has also seen an increase in school walkouts and protests in recent months, over police killings in St Louis, the Parkland school shooting and in Chicago against school closures and the buiding of a new cop academy.
Outside the USA there has also been an uptick in struggles by education workers.
- Lecturers and support staff have been on strike in the UK for weeks over changes to pensions at Universities.
- Lecturers in Kenya have been on strike for several weeks after a previous agreement on wages was not implemented. This is in the context of major separate national strikes by nurses and doctors.
- Lecturers in Zimbabwe were on strike for the entire month of Februrary in events which also saw protesting students attacked with dogs by riot cops.