Teaching Profession

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


Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
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
Teacher Perspectives: What is the Future of Virtual Education?
Hear from practicing educators on how virtual and hybrid options offer more flexibility and best practices for administrative support.
Content provided by Class
Reading & Literacy Webinar How Background Knowledge Fits Into the ‘Science of Reading’ 
Join our webinar to learn research-backed strategies for enhancing reading comprehension and building cultural responsiveness in the classroom.

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

Teaching Profession It Could Get a Whole Lot Easier to Teach in a Different State
The Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact would grant full licensing reciprocity to incoming teachers who move to a participating state.
5 min read
Illustration of a 3D map with arrows going all over the states.
Teaching Profession In L.A., Teachers and Parents Raise Money for Striking Service Workers
Many service workers cannot afford to miss work during the three-day strike. Teachers and parents are stepping in to help.
Delilah Brumer, Daily Breeze
3 min read
Cecily Myart-Cruz, president of United Teachers of Los Angeles, with Max Arias, executive director of the Service Employees International SEIU Local 99 union, speak to thousands of Los Angeles Unified School District teachers and SEIU members rallying outside the LAUSD headquarters in Los Angeles Tuesday, March 21, 2023.
A crowd of attendees at a joint rally by United Teachers of Los Angeles and SEIU 99 gathers in front of City Hall on March 15, 2023, in Los Angeles, Calif.
Damian Dovarganes/AP
Teaching Profession Q&A Los Angeles Educators Are Set to Strike. Will Teachers Elsewhere Follow Suit?
Unions in cities have become more aggressive—and low wages coupled with a demand for talent are giving them leverage.
6 min read
Thousands of LAUSD education workers calling on LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho to use the district’s $4.9 billion in reserves to invest in staff, students, and communities rally at Grand Park in front of Los Angeles City Hall in Los Angeles on March 15, 2023.
Thousands of Los Angeles Unified School District educators call on Superintendent Alberto Carvalho to use the district’s nearly $5 billion in reserves to invest in staff, students, and communities at a rally at the city's Grand Park on March 15, 2023.
Keith Birmingham/Pasadena Star-News via TNS
Teaching Profession The Gender Pay Gap Is a Problem for Teachers, Too
Women dominate the profession. Men still make more.
5 min read
A conceptual image of a female being paid less than a male.
hyejin kang/iStock/Getty