Teacher ‘Sickout’ Over Pension Vote Closes Dozens of Kentucky Schools

Politico reports hundreds of Kentucky teachers called in sick Friday, March 30 and took to the state Capitol to protest changes to their pension plans.

Teachers demonstrated in Frankfort against a bill approved by state lawmakers late Thursday that would cut back on retirement benefits and eliminate the existing pension plan for new teachers. The action triggered the closure of schools in about 20 counties across the state, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Kentucky educators join a movement cropping up across the country to demand better employment benefits for teachers and increased education funding through the threat of strikes and walkouts. Many of those rallying in Frankfort wore red like the teachers in West Virginia who walked out of their jobs earlier this month seeking better pay and benefits.

A representative for the Kentucky Education Association said today’s sickout and subsequent school closings were coordinated “organically” between teachers and their supporters on social media.

This afternoon, the union will hold a press conference on the pension bill and education funding, and will encourage teachers to attend another rally at the state Capitol on Monday.

Most school districts in Kentucky — 115 out of the state’s 173 — will be closed on Monday for spring break, minimizing the statewide impact of a potential continued sickout.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has yet to sign the pension legislation. But Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear said in a video this morning that he would sue to block its implementation should Bevin sign it.

By Mel Leonor