March 5 (UPI) -- As Texas lawmakers passed a measure to pay thousands more to teachers, a strike is looming in Kentucky where educators oppose charter schools and tax credit scholarships.
The actions are the latest reflections of ongoing labor strife among American teachers over issues like pay, alternative schools and pensions. There have already been strikes in Los Angeles, Oakland and Denver this year with threats of more.
Monday, the Texas Senate unanimously passed a bill to increase teachers' pay by $5,000, which has been a priority of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. The bill faces slimmer prospects in the House, however, where Speaker Dennis Bonnen said he prefers to give districts more fiscal flexibility and possibly merit-based pay. Failure of the bill in the Austin legislature could ultimately lead to a walkout there.
A key state conservative group, Empower Texans, has come out against the bill unless legislators add "sufficient property tax relief" to it.
Texas teachers argue that while the salary increase includes librarians, it should also include other support staff.
"The legislature also must appropriate funding for pay raises for all school employees," Texas State Teachers Association President Noel Candelaria said in a statement. "Counselors, nurses, bus drivers and other support staff also are important to creating safe and healthy learning environments for Texas' 5.4 million public school children."
In Kentucky, advocacy group Kentucky 120 United, comprised mostly of teachers, have threatened to strike if lawmakers pass a measure that includes funds for charter schools and scholarship tax credits.
Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey said such a move would take away $25 million from underfunded public schools.
"As public employees, we have exhausted all methods of communication with our legislators within the Kentucky General Assembly," the group said on its Medium blog. "We have called. We have emailed.
"We have spoken face to face through one-on-one meetings with our representatives. We have shown up at Town Hall Forums across the state. We have rallied at the Capitol and in our hometowns. Yet, the legislature continues to ignore our pleas to end these attacks."
The previous labor disputes in Los Angeles, Oakland and Denver this year were eventually settled.