Labor Secretary: Teachers did violate law with sickout

Posted at 3:37 PM, Aug 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-16 17:59:27-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Kentucky Labor Cabinet Secretary David Dickerson has wrapped up his 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.

According to Dickerson's report, 1,074 teachers did violate Kentucky law.

He cites KRS 336.050(2), which 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.

However, no penalty will be assessed for the teachers who protested. The report states that the 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.

“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.”

"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," said House Democratic Leaders Rocky Adkins, Derrick Graham, and Joni Jenkins in a statement.

"Today, Matt Bevin and the Labor Cabinet backed down and stated that they would not attempt to fine brave Kentucky teachers who protested his anti-education policies at the Capitol. This is a clear win for the thousands of teachers that this governor tried to bully. While the governor’s press release attempts to threaten future punishment of teachers, we’ve stopped him before, we stopped him here and we will stop him in the future," said a statement from Attorney General Andy Beshear.