LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Classes were called off Friday in at least 25 school districts across the state. Thousands of teachers called in sick to protest the pension reform bill passed by Kentucky's General Assembly on Thursday.
The "Sick Outs" were not organized by the Kentucky Education Association or the Jefferson County Teachers Association, but by the teachers who claim they are over this fight against legislators.
Nema Brewer is one of the creators of an invite-only Facebook page called KY 120 UNITED. She is not a teacher, but works for Fayette County and is affected by the pension reform bill.
Brewer said she needed to get a message out fast and wide.
"Reach out to western Kentucky, eastern Kentucky, southern Kentucky, northern Kentucky, central Kentucky," Brewer listed. "Unify under one message."
While legislators in Frankfort were running out of time, Brewer was too. So she quickly took to Facebook to rally all public employees affected by the pension bill by creating "KY 120 UNITED."
"We thought if we could bring the teachers into the table as well, we might have a bit more of power and more of a voice," Brewer said.
She described the KY 120 UNITED page as the "mother page" where public employees could brainstorm, chat and air grievances. Since the formation of the page, several other public employees have stepped up to lead in smaller forms, by creating branches of the KY 120 UNITED page according to congressional district.
From that point on, she explained the "Sick Out" happened organically among the teachers. Although Brewer herself is not a teacher, she said everyone was encouraging the teachers to take action.
"We're not asking for more money, we're not asking for Cadillac pensions," Brewer explained. "We're not asking for anything except what we thought we already had."
Brewer said what fueled the "Sick Outs" was probably the negative rhetoric some lawmakers used about public employees. She also said it didn't help that the pension bill was attached to a sewage bill.
"Absolutely a slap in the face to public employees," Brewer described. "It was a childish stab at us. At least that's how I took it and I think everyone else took it the same way. They could have put it on any other mule bill but they put it on that one. Are you kidding me?"
Brewer said the page she created so far has more than 35,000 members.