1974 – Hortonville Teachers’ Strike of 1974

On this date teachers in Hortonville went on strike. In 1973 the Hortonville Education Association and Hortonville school board began negotiations but after ten months of bargaining, negotiations stalled. By that time, some teachers had been teaching for over 5 years without a contract and in late January 1974, HEA members began informal picketing. Beginning March 18, approximately 500 teachers supported the picket line. The Hortonville Vigilante Association formed to counter the picketers and escort replacement teachers to class. Over 240 persons replaced eighty-four striking teachers, some only teaching one day. On April 2, the school board terminated employment of striking teachers and withdrew 1974-75 contracts. After striking teachers were fired, educators arrived in buses from across Wisconsin to march with them in solidarity. In August 1974 the HEA sued Hortonville School District for violation of due process and violation of the open meeting law, but lost the case. On appeal, the Wisconsin Supreme Court found that HEA’s rights of due process had been violated. The Hortonville school board then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court which reversed the Wisconsin decision, finding in favor of the school board. This conflict, one of the most bitter strikes in Wisconsin history, resulted in legislators enacting a new law that provided for mediation and arbitration to resolve public sector disputes. [Source: , Big Labor in a Small town: The Hortonville Teachers’ Strike, winter-spring 2003]