Strike officially ends as agreement is signed

Education Association votes to sign new proposed contract with school district

Grace Harmon, News Editor
Originally published September 20, 2015

Chelsea Leingang

Chelsea Leingang

After an eight day teacher strike and days of negotiations, the Seattle Education Association has officially voted to agree to the tentative contract to address employment and payment issues with the Seattle Public Schools created last Tuesday.

With the strike being suspended starting Thursday Sept. 17, after a SEA representative assembly meeting, school begun last week. The decision of whether to sign the new contract or continue to strike tomorrow was made in a meeting of the entire SEA membership at Benaroya Hall today. 

The meeting required at least 20 percent of all bargaining teams be there, as

well as 60 percent of all SEA members. The final vote required a simple majority ruling of over 50 percent. It was decided the SEA would sign the three-year contract and the strike would end.

However, many felt the deal didn’t benefit all educators equally, as some parts were only applicable to teachers and substitutes, and not to counselors and nurses. “Pretty much everything we [nurses] asked for we didn’t get: all of the groups like the speech teachers, psychologists and therapists got caseload issues resolved but we didn’t so some of our nurses have caseloads of 1,800 kids,” Samara Hoag, Roosevelt school nurse, said. 

The main issues being addressed were recess times, testing policies, workloads, staff shortages and salaries. It was agreed that there would be 30 minutes recesses for elementary students district wide, over-testing policies would be put in place and additional staff would be brought in to at-need schools, as well as a base salary increase.

The vote had incredibly positive numbers, with office professionals voting 96 percent, paraprofessionals with 87 percent and certificated voting 83 percent. “Our team brought in an outstanding agreement. Nothing that has never been seen before,” Jonathan Knapp, SEA President, said. “Do you get everything you want with bargaining? Even on strike? No, you never get everything. In spite of all of its difficulties and challenges and frustrations it’s the best process we have for getting to the common good.”