Is the North Carolina teacher walk-out a teacher strike?

Raleigh, NC – At last count, the number of school districts that have canceled school so teachers can attend a rally and lobby legislators for higher pay is seventeen. The total number of students impacted is over 600,000 or around 40 percent of public school students.

teacher strike sign (via wikipedia)School officials are closing schools because they say they don’t have the staff to adequately staff schools. Such decisions allow teachers to attend the rally without asking for personal leave or having to pay the cost of a substitute.  They also significantly add to the numbers of those participating in the May 16th rally, sponsored by the state teachers union, the North Carolina Association of Educators.

Eighteen school districts are closing because teachers are not teaching students.

Is this a strike?

School officials are quick to say schools are closing; therefore, teachers are not missing work.

The reason for school closures?  Too many teachers are missing from the classroom.

Chapter 95-98-2 of the North Carolina Statutes defines strike as follows:

  • 95-98.2. Strike defined. The word “strike” as used herein shall mean a cessation or deliberate slowing down of work by a combination of persons as a means of enforcing compliance with a demand upon the employer, but shall not include protected activity under Article 16 of this Chapter: Provided, however, that nothing herein shall limit or impair the right of any public employee to express or communicate a complaint or opinion on any matter related to the conditions of public employment so long as the same is not designed to and does not interfere with the full, faithful, and proper performance of the duties of employment. (1981, c. 958, s. 1.)

On May 16th  teachers in eighteen districts will be missing from their jobs because of their voluntary participation in an organized event where they will be making demands on their employer — the state.  Instruction in those districts will be stopped or slowed.

Chapter: 95-98:1 of the North Carolina Statutes prohibits strikes by public employees. It reads

  • 95-98.1. Strikes by public employees prohibited. Strikes by public employees are hereby declared illegal and against the public policy of this State. No person holding a position either full-or part-time by appointment or employment with the State of North Carolina or in any county, city, town or other political subdivision of the State of North Carolina, or in any agency of any of them, shall willfully participate in a strike by public employees. (1981, c. 958, s. 1.)

I am not an attorney. However, the legal definition of “strike” appears to me to be expansive. There is a cessation or slowing down of work by persons a means of enforcing compliance with a demand.

Is the May 16th teacher walk-out a strike?