Mississippi Teachers Gain Pay Raise, End Strike

By Lynn Olson — March 27, 1985 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Mississippi teachers last week ended a wildcat strike after the legislature overrode a gubernatorial veto and approved a three-year, $4,400 pay raise for them.

The three-stage increase will cost an estimated $67 million.

At its height, the strike had affected more than 175,000 students in 58 of Mississippi’s 154 school districts. Some 9,429 teachers walked off their jobs in recent weeks, according to the department of education. The last group of striking teachers went back to work on Thursday, according to the Mississippi Association of Educators, the state’s largest teachers’ organization.

Change of Plan

The teacher walkouts had spread despite a court order prohibiting such action. On March 13, the mae urged all teachers--union members and nonmembers alike--to strike beginning March 18.

But last week, the union asked teachers to return to the classroom, after a Hinds County judge found the mae’s 22-member board of directors in criminal contempt of court. The board members were given a two-day suspended jail sentence and fined $250 each, according to George Brown, a spokesman for the association.

Mr. Brown said the mae called the teachers back to work because its leaders feared that the judge was about to take punitive action against striking teachers as well as board members.

The union also called off the strike because, at the time, Governor William A. Allain was considering the legislative pay package. Union members had hoped that the Governor would sign the bill if the teachers were not on strike.

Strong Support

Governor Allain vetoed the bill last Monday, citing its high cost, but legislators overrode that veto Tuesday by votes of 46 to 3 in the Senate and 104 to 16 in the House.

The bill provides a $2,400 raise for teachers next year; a $1,000 raise in the second year; and an average $1,000 raise in the third year, which will be paid on the basis of a merit-pay system that has not yet been devised.

A variety of tax increases will raise roughly $77 million to pay for the bill. These include increased taxes on beer, wine, liquor, and cigarettes; a sales tax on soft drinks and syrup and on the manufacturing of machinery or parts; an industrial and railroad fuel-tax increase; a contractors’ tax increase; and a sales tax on computer software sales and services.

The bill also contains what the mae terms “some very punitive language” regarding strikes. It requires that striking teachers be fired and prohibits any public-school district in the state from hiring a teacher fired for striking, unless a court “first finds a public necessity.”


Local school boards and administrators will be fined $100 to $250 per day for every day that they fail to report the names of striking teachers to the state attorney general. Teachers’ unions could be fined up to $20,000 per day for failing to comply with an injunction banning strikes.

The same no-strike provisions apply, “as far as is practicable,” to all other public employees, according to the bill.

Mr. Brown said the union will fight the no-strike language in the legislature next year and push for a state health-insurance subsidy for teachers.

Mississippi Attorney General Edwin L. Pittman said last week that he would ask the Hinds County judge to lift a court order that withheld state funds from districts whose teachers went on strike. Because teachers plan to complete a full year’s contract, Mr. Brown said, they will eventually earn back any money that they lost because of the strike.

A version of this article appeared in the March 27, 1985 edition of Education Week as Mississippi Teachers Gain Pay Raise, End Strike

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP