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Labor Cabinet says 1,074 KY teachers violated law covering work stoppages; House Dems slam ruling

NKyTribune staff

Kentucky Labor Cabinet Secretary David Dickerson announced this week that the Cabinet’s Office of Inspector General has completed the investigation into whether Kentucky teachers engaged in an illegal work stoppage, also known as a “sick out,” during the 2019 session of the General Assembly.


The investigation found that 1,074 teachers did violate Kentucky law, which clearly prohibits work stoppages.

KRS 336.050(2) gives the Cabinet the discretion to prosecute and assess civil penalties of up to $1,000 per person, per day of work stoppage on any violation of a labor law in the state of Kentucky. Dickerson noted that while no penalties will be assessed for violations in this specific instance, this investigation was necessary to ensure that public schools remain open during the upcoming school year and that similar work stoppages do not occur in the future.

“Kentucky law clearly prohibits public-sector employees from engaging in work stoppages that many teachers engaged in during the early months of 2019,” noted Dickerson. “Those teachers who participated in this concerted effort were in clear violation of the law, as noted by the Kentucky Education Association and recently affirmed by a federal court.”

Kentucky House Democratic leaders issued this response to the ruling:


“This administration has tried every trick in the book to undermine our teachers and their supporters. Its Labor Cabinet threatens them with fines for exercising their right to be heard on legislation directly affecting them; its Finance and Administration Cabinet all but locks the doors to the Capitol to shut down any form of dissent; and the governor calls them thugs and tries to take away their retirement. Our teachers — and all of Kentucky — deserve better than this.”  — House Democratic Leaders Rocky Adkins, Derrick Graham and Joni Jenkins 

United States District Judge Danny Reeves acknowledged that the Labor Cabinet had every right to investigate public school teachers for their conduct.

“Kentucky statutes explicitly grant the Labor Cabinet the authority to prosecute and assess civil penalties against public employees, which includes public-school teachers who may have violated KRS Chapter 336,” Reeves stated. “Students are expected to attend classes. If they fail to do so without a valid excuse, their absence is duly-noted and appropriate action is taken. But the teachers at the center of this controversy expect[ed] different treatment.”

A full copy of the Court’s Order can be found here.

“It is important to note what the Court explicitly stated,” added Dickerson. “Citizens of the Commonwealth have a strong and continuing interest in public schools remaining open during the school year. The purpose of the Cabinet’s investigation was to undertake a thorough investigation into conduct by some public school teachers and ensure that work stoppages do not happen again so that public schools will be able to fulfill their mission to educate the children of Kentucky. The Cabinet remains dedicated to that mission and will continue to monitor any future ‘sick outs’ closely for further violations of Kentucky labor law.”

“Let it be clearly understood that the grace extended in this instance will not be extended for future such proven violations,” said Dickerson. “The public cannot tolerate another illegal work stoppage in our schools. It is important for public school teachers to understand the level of seriousness that, by law, the Labor Cabinet must and will give to any future work stoppages. We dedicate ourselves to students and parents across the Commonwealth to make sure that this doesn’t happen again, and that our schools will remain open.”

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One Comment

  1. How much are students fined for unexcused absences??? Oh I get it! Their parents are fined!!!????
    No, neither of them are fined a dime and I worked in schools where truancy was in many cases out of control. I hope the teachers in unison shut down every school in the state of Kentucky if this current government goes after their pensions or their profession in any way. If I recall my labor history, striking was forbidden by anyone back in the period prior to unionization. Those laws were done away with as should this one forbidding strikes by public employees. The labor cabinet would see hell freeze over before they received a dime from me for taking my sick days or personal days for any reason I chose to use them.

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