Mississippi Union Seeks Full Strike
The Mississippi Association of Educators, the state's largest teachers' union, last week urged all of the state's teachers--union and non-union teachers alike--to strike beginning March 18.
In a related action, eight teachers filed suit in U.S. District Court to force the state to increase teachers' salaries and to block further state action to obstruct the strike, according to George Brown, a spokesman for the mae
Most of the state's 154 school districts were closed last week for for spring recess, but three of the 10 not on spring break were closed because of the strike, according to Jack Lynch, a spokesman for the department of education. The remaining seven districts held classes as usual, he said.
In at least two districts--Marion County and Bay St. Louis--striking teachers were told by school officials that because they had not reported for work their contracts had expired, Mr. Lynch said.
Lawmakers Still Meeting
Mississippi's heated debate over teacher pay, which has generated increasing conflict since the beginning of March, showed few signs of abating last week, as legislators failed to reach a compromise on salary increases.
Teachers have asked for a $7,000 raise over the next two years, but Gov. William A. Allain, in an attempt to avoid a tax increase, has said he will not grant any raise over $1,500.
Jack Reed, the president of the state board of education, has asked Mississippi teachers to disregard the mae's strike call. "I'm convinced that an increase in strike activity will jeopardize further legislative progress," he said.
He also urged, in a letter to Alice Harden, president of the mae, that the union reconsider its strike decision in light of the legislature's progress toward reaching agreement on a salary package for teachers.
According to Mr. Lynch, that package would give teachers a $2,300 raise next year--and would probably necessitate a tax increase.