Press Release

AFT Responds to Goldwater Institute on Arizona Teacher Strikes

For Release: 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018


Janet Bass

WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten sent a letter today to Arizona superintendents and other interested parties outlining the legality of teacher strikes in Arizona to set the record straight, following a Goldwater Institute letter that used scare tactics to intimidate superintendents to force teachers to return to the classroom.

Teachers across Arizona have been protesting at the state Capitol to restore school funding from years of tax cuts that have slashed the funding needed to adequately educate students. Superintendents have supported the educators’ protests for additional funding.

“If you are looking for a fair statement (as opposed to Goldwater’s ideologically driven, misleading statement) on the question of whether there is a right to strike for teachers in Arizona, it is this: There is no statutory prohibition, the Arizona Supreme Court has not ruled on the issue, and the question has no definitive answer,” Weingarten wrote in the letter.

She wrote that the Goldwater Institute, a right-wing ideological organization, was trying “to scare you by citing misleading and irrelevant sections of the Arizona Revised Statutes that have little to no bearing on any action that you must take.”

“The vague reference to potential lawsuits is further designed to stop you from taking the action necessary to allow your teachers to speak on issues of public concern,” she wrote. “Closing a school because large numbers of teachers and/or students are not likely to be present is not an act of political pressure; it is a sensible action that is defensible as a matter of public safety and a responsible use of resources.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.