PHOENIX — Democratic state legislators Rebecca Rios and Steve Farley were pressed Wednesday evening about the likelihood of a union-led teachers strike in Arizona and how they would respond if it happened.
Representative Rios, who represents the state’s 27th legislative district in Maricopa County, and Senator Farley, who represents the state’s 9th legislative district in Pima County, offered markedly different answers on Wednesday’s “Arizona Horizon.”
“It’s a frightening prospect,” Rios said on KAET, when asked about her thoughts on the issue. “But I think, if we keep pushing this issue, kicking the can down the road and not paying teachers a livable wage, we’re going to be faced with that.”
The house minority leader cited a recent claim by Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association, that the union has received an increased number of inquiries about the topic of a strike.
Ted Simons, the host of “Arizona Horizon,” referred to the recent strike in West Virginia — and, apparently sensing Rios’s hesitation to offer her full-throated support for such a demonstration, asked for clarification: “So not necessarily supporting a teachers strike?”
“No,” she said. “I hope it doesn’t come to that.”
Simons posed a similar question to Farley several times.
When asked if a teachers strike would be counter-productive in the current political environment in Arizona, Farley responded that it was “hard to tell.” However, the state senator implied that he might throw his support behind such a demonstration if it were to happen.
“I asked Representative Rios, but I ask you again,” Simons asked, “Would you support a strike?”
“If the teachers are leaning in this direction and we’re not getting any action when it comes to the legislature,” Farley said, “then we should support where the teachers are going.”
The teachers union endorsed Professor David Garcia — Farley’s Democratic opponent in the gubernatorial primary race — earlier that day.
A version of this article appears at The Farley Report.