Seattle Teachers Vote To Authorize Strike On First Day Of School | KUOW News and Information

Seattle Teachers Vote To Authorize Strike On First Day Of School

Sep 4, 2015

Seattle Public Schools teachers have voted to strike beginning the first day of school, Sept. 9, if there's no new contract.

Teachers call the district's proposals "disrespectful."

Reporters weren't allowed inside the union meeting at Benaroya Hall, but Seattle Education Association Vice President Phyllis Campano said the unanimous strike vote sends a message to the district.

"It takes a lot to get this district to vote to strike," Campano said. "They have to know at that point how frustrated the members are, the educators are, in this district. And they have to come to the table and get it done."

The list of issues still on the table is long — from how much recess kids get, to the length of the school day, to pay.

Jeff Morgen teaches social studies and American government at Ingraham High School. He wants a cost-of-living increase. "Our administrators downtown, I mean, they're pulling 100 Gs," Morgen said. "We just want to be able to manage living in the Seattle area."

The district has proposed a 2 to 3 percent annual raise for the next three years. The union wants an annual 6 percent increase over that span.

Marianne Clarke teaches language arts and social studies at Tops K-8. She's also on the union bargaining team that's been negotiating with the district since May. Clarke said it was heartbreaking to hear the physical and occupational therapists on the bargaining team talk about their inability to provide for every student who needs help.

"I mean, literally, people were in tears presenting their case to the district, and there are no case loads. They won't give us case loads," Clarke said.

School district officials are not giving interviews about the bargaining process. But Superintendent Larry Nyland released a written statement saying that the district's goal is "a contract which honors, respects and pays our educators and provides more instructional time for all students, including those children who desperately need more time with outstanding teachers in order to succeed."

The union and the district enter mediation Friday morning.