Miss. Teacher's Union Calls Strike

Associated Press

Mississippi's largest teachers union has called for a statewide walkout starting Monday to protest the Legislature's failure to provide a $7,000 pay raise over two years.

It would be the first widespread teachers' walkout in Mississippi, where the average teacher salary of $16,000 is the lowest in the nation.

The Mississippi Assn. of Educators, which represents half of the 26,000 public schoolteachers in the state, says the $7,000 raise is needed to bring teacher salaries to the Southeastern average. Lawmakers are considering a bill that would provide $4,000 in raises over three years.

Herman Coleman, the association's interim executive director, said 17 of 19 members of the board of directors conferred before making the strike decision.

Association staff member Bill Carter said leaders expect "15 or 20 locals to go out" on Monday. "The next day there will be 15 or 20 to add. . . . As it progresses, we expect for it to snowball."

The rival Mississippi American Federation of Teachers, which has about 3,500 members, said it would give no organizational backing to a walkout and said the strike call at this time was "insensitive and foolhardy."

Gov. Bill Allain has repeatedly said he will not support any tax increases to give teachers a raise. He has proposed a $1,500 raise this year.

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