STRIKE UPDATES: District says school starts Thursday, following tentative contract agreement reached after all-night talks, but union leaders’ recommendation isn’t in yet

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7:43 AM: Just texted and tweeted by the union – “SEA reached a tentative contract agreement …” after negotiators pulled an all-nighter. Seattle Education Association members are being told to go to their picket sites at 8:30 am for more information. In its Facebook post, SEA added that while the bargainers have a tentative agreement, “the strike will continue until the SEA board and representative assembly review the agreement later today and decide whether to recommend approval to the SEA membership or continue striking.”

8:32 AM: Per the district, “goal is to start school Thursday.” Again, per the union, their recommendation is still pending review. We have just arrived at the Chief Sealth IHS picketing location (photo above) to see what educators there are hearing.

9 AM: No new details in the briefing for this group of strikers, but a reiteration that the strike continues for now:

That’s teacher Ian Golash. He said Denny and Sealth teachers (who you might recall marched to district HQ downtown yesterday afternoon) will be picketing together while they wait for news on whether leadership recommends suspending the strike and setting a vote. For the official bottom line from the district, its strike-info page currently begins, “SPS and SEA have reached a tentative agreement. Details have not yet been released. We do not yet know when school will resume.” (added) KIRO has posted unedited video of the district briefing here (held on very short notice so we couldn’t get downtown).

9:26 AM: District negotiators said at today’s briefing (per the aforementioned video, which we just watched) that the marathon negotiating session went from 11 am Monday until just before 7 am today. District spokesperson Stacy Howard reiterated that the district is working on logistics, which is why school might not be able to reopen before Thursday – primarily transportation and food – and that they’re also working on the calendar details, and that they will get information out to families as soon as they have it. She and the negotiators at the briefing said they could not discuss any details of the deal, “embargoed” while the union leadership reviews it.

10:19 AM: The most-recent text from the union to its membership reiterates that the union’s board will review the tentative agreement today, but the strike continues in the meantime. We’ve received these photos from Jennifer Hall (second from right in 2nd photo below) at West Seattle High School, with messages of gratitude for community support:

The downtown march that was scheduled days ago, if the strike had continued this long, is under way right now.

11:46 AM: SEA president Jonathan Knapp is talking with citywide media at union HQ. He’s quoted as saying it’s a three-year agreement.

1:50 PM: The district says school will start Thursday. The union hasn’t had its reps’ meeting yet, so we’re not sure what’s led to that declaration, but it’s what SPS says. As a commenter said here hours ago, the union meeting is at 2:30.

3:15 PM: The union reps’ meeting is at the Machinists’ Union Hall in South Park, and SEA says their announcement will happen there when it’s over, so we’ve just arrived there to join the rest of the staked-out media. According to SEA’s latest text, the Representatives’ Assembly (reps from the 97 schools in the district) is what’s happening now.

57 Replies to "STRIKE UPDATES: District says school starts Thursday, following tentative contract agreement reached after all-night talks, but union leaders' recommendation isn't in yet"

  • JS September 15, 2015 (7:56 am)

    Fingers crossed that there’s a deal. My daughter and her friends really, really want to go to school.

    A silver lining in the strike has been hearing how much students want to go to school. I haven’t heard any snow day cheers from kids about the school closures.

  • Manolita September 15, 2015 (7:58 am)

    So there is hope.
    Tracy, you are amazing. I have only been getting updates from WSB because I get faster, more accurate information from you than anybody else. Have a great day.

  • Hopeful! September 15, 2015 (8:12 am)

    WSB rocks! Thank you! Fingers crossed everyone got what they wanted (or most of what they wanted)!

  • Dad of 2 September 15, 2015 (8:13 am)

    The WSBlog has been my go-to source for information during this strike. Thank you!

  • Marie September 15, 2015 (8:18 am)

    Very glad to hear this, but I suspect even with the tentative deal, we’re looking at Monday before the kids are actually back in class. I hope to hear sea will move very quickly and with a sense of urgency with their next steps.

    • WSB September 15, 2015 (8:28 am)

      When the district spokesperson answered the “how soon could they go back?” question yesterday, the “maybe not the NEXT day” was more in the context of, if a deal was reached at night could they go back the next morning. We’re on our way to the nearest picket line to see what they are hearing as they arrive, but I don’t think tomorrow can be entirely ruled out yet. Certainly not a bad idea to have plans in place, of course. – TR

  • Scott September 15, 2015 (8:25 am)

    Here is to hoping they will accept and start tomorrow. If they start on the date they reported then my wife will miss her babes first day of K as she is scheduled to leave town tomorrow afternoon. I am pissed that they caused this problem for us and took this away from her. Also it looks like they will be going to school until June 30th or July 1st. On top of that there has not been snow days added. This could go until after the fourth of July.

    • WSB September 15, 2015 (8:32 am)

      Scott, that is incorrect. At yesterday’s briefing (you can see the video in our Monday story), the district spokesperson reiterated that while it’s all subject to finalizing, the first three strike days would theoretically be the three snow days, two of which are internal to the current calendar, one of which follows what would have been the last day of school. And they were looking at other internal-to-the-year possibilities such as part of midwinter break, which is short/long on alternating years and this school year was scheduled to be long (a full week). Stand by for all those details.
      Re: Thursday, the district has just tweeted “the goal is to start school Thursday.” (They announced an ASAP briefing upon word of the agreement but there was no way we could get through bridge traffic on short notice.)

  • bsmomma September 15, 2015 (8:26 am)

    I read that if the teachers cote to accept the agreement classes would start Thursday. :) Fingers Crossed!!

  • lox September 15, 2015 (8:45 am)

    WSB, you continue to amaze and impress me. You add such value to our community!

  • Max September 15, 2015 (8:48 am)

    Great coverage as always WSB. We appreciate you so much and thank you for keeping everyone so well-informed at all hours of the day and night.

  • haven September 15, 2015 (8:48 am)

    Scott…WSB was too busy correcting you to respond to you properly. I’m sorry your wife might miss first day of K. Super sucks. Everyone acts like the second we think about how this affects our own lives we are being selfish. I really hope they get their s*** together so your wife and child can have this important memory.

  • Seattle Parent September 15, 2015 (8:56 am)

    Correction @WSB – one snow day was built into the actual school year and two follow the currently scheduled last day. If the strike was only 3 days the last day of school, using the snow days (and assuming we don’t actually need snow days or emergency off school days during the year) the last day would be June 27th. But we’re looking at another 3 days, right? So we need to either take away some school break time or add them to the last week of June, which puts the last day on June 30th. I think @Scott’s point is that we don’t have much time to work with in the school calendar and we may be going into July.

  • WsSue September 15, 2015 (8:57 am)

    @Scott– as a mother who saw that first day of kindergarten last year as a major milestone in my son’s little life, I feel much empathy for your wife. I’m sorry if she has to miss it. It’s a big day for most parents. What a shame.

  • rudy September 15, 2015 (9:00 am)

    My understanding on needing to wait until Thursday to start, rather than tomorrow, is not about teachers getting ready, but that the district needs time to gas up the buses and order food for school lunches….

  • david September 15, 2015 (9:03 am)

    I’m glad SPS finally got serious about this!
    No doubt the city council’s vote helped…

    They are using the snow days – good because El Nino global warming will help with no snow.
    Now they should get rid of midwinter break all-together so kids can get out earlier than planned!
    A way to help smooth things over…

  • Confused September 15, 2015 (9:13 am)

    Based on a comment from an earlier story around the strike: “Hopeful and WSB- Teachers will go back to work once a tentative agreement is reached. A meeting will be called at that time so members may vote. At the last general membership meeting, a proposal was put out that membership needed to vote on the tentative agreement first before heading back to work. It did not pass.
    Comment by Marianne — 12:01 pm September 13, 2015 #”
    WSB – based on the above (if true) shouldn’t the district be able to start getting things ready today and the teachers should stop striking?

  • Alex September 15, 2015 (9:19 am)

    Please let this be it!!! Please let the teachers have gotten much of what they wanted. I agree with David, the city council vote must have helped. Now, we must take this fight to the Legislature. They cannot continue to underfund education in WA. It is THE paramount duty. Take it back to the courts, whatever it takes. The fight just got a lot hotter.

  • Seattle Parent September 15, 2015 (9:19 am)

    We feel the same way in this house. We switched around schedules so that my husband could be there for our child’s first day of kindergarten. His schedule is as such that he can’t switch his day at the last minute, so we’re disappointed as well.

  • WSEA September 15, 2015 (9:35 am)

    “SPS and SEA have reached a tentative agreement. Details have not yet been released.

    Why is there always a lack of transparency? The tax payers should be able to know the details so we can help push either side to agree on the latest proposal.

    I’m not picking sides but commenting on the process.

  • Rope September 15, 2015 (9:40 am)

    Throughout Washington State teachers negotiated fair, equitable, and timely agreements. They will receive no press. They will receive no extra support. WEA will celebrate the Seattle strike. If we go back to business as usual, we’ll be here again. SEA needs new leadership. The WEA needs to become an effective voice for education in Olympia (6 years without a COLA???). SPS needs to work with teachers instead of against them. We need to put pressure on the legislature to fully fund education. We need to vote carefully for School Board members and state legislators. Educational funding has been kicked down the road for 20 years. Whose fault is that?

  • Marie September 15, 2015 (9:42 am)

    Sounds like the district needs a day and the sea needs time to go through their process with members on whether to say yes or not. Can both parties, particularly Sea on which this now hinges, be transparent about the time it takes for each of the next steps? As a parent of an Sps student I hope to see transparency and urgency so I feel assured parties aren’t dragging their feet.

  • SeattleVolunteer September 15, 2015 (10:19 am)

    It is my understanding that SEA has called all of its school representatives in for a meeting at 2:30 today, where they will discuss and vote on the proposed contract. I imagine that SEA leadership is reviewing the contract now, in preparation for that meeting.

    If leadership and the representatives agree with the proposed contract, I believe it goes into effect without the need for a vote by the full union.

  • forgotmyname September 15, 2015 (10:23 am)

    @WSEA – Most public service unions do not ‘leak’ the negotiation details until the leadership has approved the deal and it has been voted on by the membership (or sent to a vote). Mine doesn’t. That ensures members vote on the deal as presented and are not prejudiced by what those outside the union ‘think’ the deal is (good or bad). In this case, the SEA needs to determine if this is a good deal for its members and not if it plays in Peoria (as they say) or with the parents. The union’s only concern is, and should be, its members, not us. I’d say that they haven’t divulged the details shows it’s a deal that both sides gave ground on to reach and has a good chance of being approved.

  • yippee September 15, 2015 (11:22 am)

    Hooray – so glad SEA and SPS finally did what they should have been doing from day 1 (or even better before day 1) — working thru the night to find a common ground.

  • TryingToUnderstand September 15, 2015 (11:50 am)

    Regarding the make-up days, I don’t quite understand why going to school on Saturdays would even be a consideration? There seem to be many other days to consider first.
    Why couldn’t the professional development day in October be moved to a Saturday and/or the conference days off in November move to nights or on a Saturday?
    My son said that having to go to school on a Saturday would be like being punished for something he didn’t do.

    It was the union’s decision to strike so asking the union members to re-arrange their schedules in the future seems like it would impact fewer people than logistically trying to get buses and drivers, food service, other staff, students and parents make school work on a Saturday.

  • G September 15, 2015 (11:56 am)


    Yes, you correctly described how the union conducts business; however, it also describes the basic nature of any union – taking care of it’s members is the primary concern, anyone outside of the union is secondary.

    This friction becomes even more relevant in regards to public unions, for obvious reasons, and this is why pubic unions receive less support even among those who might otherwise tend to support unions.

    If my experience holds true, an anemic teacher’s contract will be spun by the union leaders as a great victory, but they will try to forget about it as quickly as possible.

  • bsmomma September 15, 2015 (11:58 am)

    I totally agree with you TryingToUnderstand!!! Saturdays should absolutely be off the table as possible make up days!

  • Wes C. Addle September 15, 2015 (12:18 pm)

    Good article sent to me by a teacher. It’s not done yet.

  • Scott September 15, 2015 (12:30 pm)

    If they schedule a Saturday as a make up day I will be striking that day and I will make it clear that this shouldn’t show up on any records.

  • JanS September 15, 2015 (12:31 pm)

    so time off for the kids is more important than their education….got it! Forgive me…terrible cold,and cranky here. I guess I get a bit underwhelmed that there are some people(parents) who only think about their inconvenience, and not about the big picture. You kids deserve the best from their teachers, and those teachers deserve the best from their district and their state. All people see is the teachers not working…so they blame them. All people see is the damned headlines about striking for more they blame the teachers. Please look at the district’s reluctance to negotiate months ago, and get this solved. And complain to your state legislators for not doing their job of funding education fully. They are being fines $100,000 per day for not doing their job….for the last 2 years (ignoring a court order to fully fund education). Add that money up…they can find funds for that and not for education? Just as they can find money for Charter schools (now unconstitutional) but not for public schools? It’s appalling. But…blame the teachers…go ahead…it’s so much easier.

  • david September 15, 2015 (12:31 pm)
    “That’s a classic manipulation technique to force the hand of the teachers to sign the agreement—when the agreement may not be acceptable yet.”
    I hope the TA is good…

  • Seattle Parent September 15, 2015 (12:33 pm)

    Let’s just wait an see what the agreement is about the make-up days. There has already been so much misinformation circulated throughout this process, let’s just wait to get confirmed information before we waste any more energy on this debacle.

  • ACG September 15, 2015 (12:41 pm)

    Now, let’s get Kam Chancellor’s contract settled and get him back to work also.

  • david September 15, 2015 (12:59 pm)

    That’s what I’m talk’n-bout!@!!!

  • roxy September 15, 2015 (1:42 pm)

    Weren’t school board members up for election recently?

    • WSB September 15, 2015 (1:49 pm)

      SCHOOL WILL START THURSDAY, says the district. Not sure of how this works given that we haven’t heard from the union yet, but that’s what SPS says … – Union reps’ meeting *is* set for 2:30 pm, as mentioned by a commenter upthread here (thanks for the early alert!) – TR
      P.S. Re: school board members’ election, there are several on the ballot in November, including the race in the Seattle/South Park area, between incumbent Marty McLaren and challenger Leslie Harris. The entire city votes on each school board race in the general election, but the finalists were chosen by district primaries in the primary.

  • Alvis September 15, 2015 (1:48 pm)

    I agree with the above (12:31 pm) comments from JanS.

  • Teacher September 15, 2015 (2:02 pm)

    Saturday’s we’re never on the table. That was a sarcastic comment from another parent in another post on this blog. See how easily rumors get started ?

    • WSB September 15, 2015 (2:09 pm)

      @Teacher – Saturdays *were* mentioned by district spokesperson Stacy Howard in an official briefing, as we reported (from covering that briefing in person), as one of the ideas being “tossed around.” I have no knowledge of whether they are or have been officially on “the table” but the mention definitely stems from an official district comment, not from somebody’s “sarcastic comment” – TR

  • open your eyes September 15, 2015 (2:03 pm)

    I’ve been following the comments on WSB since the strike started and wanted to add something now before this all winds down. It’s very apparent that this strike has caused a lot of emotional responses between teachers and parents. What has upset me the most is not the blind faith in the union or the lack of response of SPS and SEA. It is the shaming that has taken place when working class parents try to talk about how this strike has impacted them personally related to child care and jobs. They have been called impatient, whiners, unsupportive of teachers, and selfish. How ironic! The most vocal supporters of this strike state that teachers work hard and deserve to be treated better. As if other people’s (who also work hard) jobs and financial situations don’t matter! How narrow minded to assume that we all can just take a day off and join a picket line, or that we have family/friends in Seattle to lean on for child care, or that people aren’t living paycheck to paycheck, or relying on free/reduced school lunches to feed their children. Have you not bothered to notice that one of the items teachers are fighting for is greater equity in our schools? This shaming only makes the racial and economic divide even larger. Do you not realize that many teachers took public school teaching positions for this very purpose – to educate children from all socioeconomic classes? Where is your empathy? I hope this message is seen broadly so that those parents that felt they were directly or indirectly shamed for daring to speak about true impacts to their livelihood know that not all parents feel the same as the silly few that responded with narrow-minded perspectives. The diversity of public schools is exactly why I choose to send my kids to public schools instead of private. So that they will create lasting relationships with all walks of life and not just those that look and act the same. I hope that this strike did not cause more harm than good for our children and that they will do a better job than their parents have done being good neighbors.

  • i'mcoveredinbees September 15, 2015 (2:23 pm)

    WSB, I appreciate your efforts in getting both sides throughout this strike. I am waiting to hear what the teachers have to say on this “tentative agreement” before getting excited. As for those of you trashing the teachers, I really don’t have words…

    I support the teachers 100% and am grateful they are backed by the union. Teachers, if you are reading this, thank you for all of your hard work and attention, commitment, and personal investment in teaching our children. You are creating the future and you are the greatest! <3

  • AmandaKH September 15, 2015 (2:25 pm)

    They won’t make our kids go to school on Saturday. Calm down. There is nothing that riles people more than any threat, perceived or real, to their children. With the Saturday comment, along with the above mentioned Stranger piece, the District is using emotional manipulation to get what they want. And what they want is to have our anger and frustration deflected from their heads. It is true that the State is under a Supreme Court order to fully fund education and are being fined $100,000 / day. But Seattle has the largest student population in the state, and our Board has done nothing to rally everyone to that cause. They would rather pass the blame and create a radically divisive situation within our Communities. What we really is some genuine leadership from our elected school board.

  • Teacher September 15, 2015 (2:27 pm)

    I have also been reading all of the comments and blog posts since the strike started and I have to disagree. The only shaming I noticed was of people who disagreed with the union or the district. I didn’t see any comments trying to shame those in a difficult situation because of their work.

  • Seattle Parent September 15, 2015 (2:32 pm)

    @WSB (1:49 pm) we have heard from the union. They confirmed there is a TA on the table. It is now the responsibility of the union bargaining team to sell their agreed terms to the rest of their members. If they are NOT able to convince the teachers this is the best deal they could negotiate for them, then the teachers should be asking their own union reps why they agreed to such terms. The SPS has done their part so far, which is reaching an agreement with the union representatives authorized to negotiate on behalf of the union members. If the teachers reject the agreement, that failure is on SEA reps, not SPS reps.

    • WSB September 15, 2015 (2:47 pm)

      Hi, yes, we know there’s a TA, we reported that at 7:43 am, minutes after the union announced it. What I meant was whether *Saturdays* were ever “on the table” aside from having been mentioned by a district spokesperson as a possible way to make up time. Thanks.
      P.S. We understand the 2:30 pm meeting is at the Machinists Hall over in South Park so we’re headed over in a few mins to stake it out in hopes of getting first word when it’s over, assuming it’s not a really short meeting!

  • Eric September 15, 2015 (3:05 pm)

    Seems just like SPS to make a definitive announcement that school will start Thursday even before the teachers have had an opportunity to review the proposal.

    And Seattle parent, that’s not the way it works. Negotiators do their best, but then have to go back to their own constituencies and convince the people that this deal is in fact the best. At a national level, treaties have to be approved by the Senate, and there have been some that have been rejected. That doesn’t mean the negotiators didn’t do their job or it’s their fault. In most cases treaties (and contracts) are ratified, but if one supported the teachers before, there’s no reason to withdraw that support if they feel that the agreement before them doesn’t accomplish their goals.

  • Community Member September 15, 2015 (3:32 pm)

    Unions usually don’t announce much before the meeting for the simple reason that they need a quorum of members to show up and vote. When details and recommendations are announced ahead of time, members tend to think it’s all been settled and stay home.

  • marie September 15, 2015 (4:02 pm)

    Parents have been shamed- suggested to us that School is not a free babysitter as if any of us think that- very disrespectful language. And whiners, etc.

    I agree with open Your eyes. Many families (especially working poor families with the fewest resources) have been greatly affected, and there doesn’t seem to be much understanding around this. I remember a comment that was posted for parents that they just get creative on childcare. Working poor, under stress families, especially don’t have the luxury of being creative, or hanging at home with their kids- unless they want to lose their jobs and ability to provide for their families. Not all parents are upper class or even middle class for that matter.

  • WSB September 15, 2015 (4:10 pm)

    NZSEA, teachers and others on Twitter are still questioning that. So until we hear it from *both* sides, we won’t take it for truth.

  • Kittyno September 15, 2015 (4:22 pm)

    @ Teacher: there were responses to people who were upset about how difficult it was to find childcare on short notice. Some of the responses were very flippant–minimizing real problems. And there were those that chose to make it more divisive–as in; if you complain about childcare, you must not give a flying whahoo about teachers. Which obviously is not necessarily the case. Shaming.

  • Rachael September 15, 2015 (4:38 pm)

    WSB, thank you for being my primary news site! Excellent and timely coverage on the strike and virtually every community happening. WSB are one of the many great things that make West Seattle an awesome community. Great job!

  • Not Teacher September 15, 2015 (5:04 pm)

    Not sure how excited I would be to have “Teacher” tracking my kids with the grammar and reading-comprehension skills being displayed on their unnecessarily combative posts.

  • alkimom47 September 15, 2015 (6:24 pm)

    I truly can see the many sides of this issue, and it has led me to question tactics and systems on both sides. I disagree strongly with the reduction in recess and the excessive testing. I feel teachers should be fairly and justly compensated. However, I do think there is room for an examination of what “just and fair” is and an acknowledgement that many aspects of teacher’s professional life (pension, good benefits, and considerable time off) are envied by others with comparable degrees. I resent that this and many other nuanced responses is misconstrued as “vilifying” teachers or pitting working people against working people. If we honestly cannot have a difference of opinion, than we perpetuate marginalization on both sides. Seeing only one side that agrees with your own in full is not a way to create community.

  • Elle Nell September 15, 2015 (8:33 pm)

    well said, alkimom47.
    I’m so grateful this is over.

  • I agree September 15, 2015 (9:35 pm)

    @ not teacher; I was thinking the same thing!
    @open your eyes and Marie; you are absolutely right. I saw plenty of comments shaming parents. I’m curious to know what the dynamics between teachers and parents will be in the coming week.

Sorry, comment time is over.