VIDEO: Seattle educators picketing on strike-vote eve; district says it’s asked for mediation

4:28 PM: That’s the picket line along SW Thistle outside Chief Sealth International High School (mouse over the image to show and click the video’s “play” button), one of two sites in West Seattle and nine around the city where Seattle Education Association members are picketing on the eve of their strike vote.

After more than three months of contract talks, there’s no agreement, so when members from around the city meet at Benaroya Hall tomorrow evening, they’ll be voting on whether to strike. As noted in our most recent coverage here and here, the issues on which they disagree include pay increases and guaranteed recess time. The SEA members picketing at Sealth are from not just that school but also its “feeder” elementary and middle schools; we’re heading next to West Seattle High School, where picketing also is supposed to be happening until 5:30 pm. The first day of classes for Seattle Public Schools is scheduled to be one week from today, Wednesday, September 9th.

5:14 PM: We aren’t going to make it over to WSHS because of the breaking story we’re covering. If anyone has a photo to share of picketing there, please send – – so we can add. Meantime, Melissa has sent a photo from Delridge/Thistle, a few blocks east of the Sealth picketing:

10:02 PM: We did get photos from the WSHS picketing – thank you!

That photo is from Roland; the next one, from Rich.

The district has published another update, saying it has asked for mediation, and that the union has agreed, starting Friday. There’s also an update on the union website. Both updates spell out the respective sides’ views on where they remain apart.

38 Replies to "VIDEO: Seattle educators picketing on strike-vote eve; district says it's asked for mediation"

  • lox September 2, 2015 (5:04 pm)

    Come on, SPS. Do what’s right for our teachers and kids!

  • Panda September 2, 2015 (5:23 pm)

    Just got word from a reliable inside source that it looks likely that the vote to strike will be YES.

    Oh boy…

  • Lawless September 2, 2015 (5:37 pm)

    I know most teachers are hard working and deserve more, but I don’t believe they are setting a good example to the students on how to change their situation by going on strike which is against state law. Is it ok to break the law to get what you think you deserve?

  • Stacey September 2, 2015 (5:52 pm)

    I support the Teachers! What they are asking for is not unreasonable. AND the administration is top heavy. The Seattle School District Administration forgets that the students are the priority – the requests the teachers are making are to benefit the students. The District should be making these requests a priority!!

  • RR September 2, 2015 (6:13 pm)

    I support our teachers!!!

  • sunshine September 2, 2015 (6:24 pm)

    How much can we teachers give away? We give our time, hearts, and expertise to our students and we are asked to give even more without pay. Where does it end? I will go along with what my heart says tomorrow at beneroya hall with thousands of teachers. I’m a guest teacher and am in full support of my teachers I cover for. By the way, parents and students are in full support of whatever decision we make!

  • dcn September 2, 2015 (6:31 pm)

    Unfortunately, one of the messages getting to students is that teaching is quickly becoming a poor career if you want to live in the Seattle area. Average teacher salaries are about 1/8 the median cost of a Seattle area home. Even at the top of the pay scale (~$86K with a PhD and 15 years of experience), teachers will not be able to afford homes here. Young adults who might make wonderful teachers will look to other college majors and careers if they wish to live here.

  • Teach September 2, 2015 (6:43 pm)

    As a former teacher with SPS, I stand with the teachers. The district doesn’t give a damn about their teachers and they don’t try to hide that. More power to the teachers in standing up for what is right.

  • Lynn September 2, 2015 (6:44 pm)


    This again? Strikes by teachers aren’t protected under state law but that doesn’t mean they’re illegal. (There are not laws describing everything a person could do that is not illegal.)

    @sunshine and dcn,

    The worst of it is that we know the money is there. The district is choosing to spend it on other things. (Evidence – teachers in Everett just came to a tentative agreement that moves the top of the pay scale up to $103,000 in the third year of their contract.) What could our district be spending money on that is more important than teacher salaries?

  • Mike September 2, 2015 (7:01 pm)

    dcn, that’s not true. Different employees of SPS are compensated differently. Here’s a secondary teacher with a masters that’s making more than twice what you posted.
    I agree that SPS is top heavy at the district offices and there needs to be more done to make schools better for students, I just don’t think salary increases are it. They’re asking for more than 7% increase each year for the next 3 years, this is far more than most people get without changing positions and responsibilities at jobs requiring 50+ hours a week with 2 – 3 weeks of vacation time.
    I believe the entry level pay needs to be increased for teachers, but unions have locked in a sweet retirement and pay for those that have served as public employees for decades.
    I expect far better results from our schools with these pay increases, there’s a select few schools that perform well, most in SPS are horrible.

  • dcn September 2, 2015 (7:39 pm)

    Mike, I got my data from the SPS published teacher salary scale:

    While some teachers will make more coaching and being club or class advisers, it’s not substantially more. I’m not sure what the guy you found does, but he is not a typical employee. My guess is he is the highest paid teacher in the state by a fairly large margin.
    The 21% raise issue has also been explained in other threads here. Teachers are not asking for a 7% raise each year on their entire salary. The 7%/year is on their “TRI” pay, which is the part SPS covers. It is about a quarter of their total pay (~$21K for that teacher with a PhD). This amounts to $1,470 per year, or an extra $122/month. And that’s for the teacher at the top of the scale. It’s about $1,000/year at the bottom of the scale (about $90/month). This is after 6 years with no cost of living adjustments from the state on their base salary, which is 75% of their pay.
    It’s a confusing way to pay someone, but teachers can’t bargain with their legislators over the base salary. And unfortunately, legislators only saw fit to give a 3% cost of living adjustment after 6 years of nothing. During that same time, the cost of living in Seattle has sky-rocketed.

  • Educator September 2, 2015 (7:58 pm)

    dcn, I don’t believe that’s correct. I was told by my union rep that the raise is based on our state base salary, but paid as TRI pay. They haven’t done a good job explaining this. It essentially doubles the amounts in your example, which is hardly staggering, either.

    And I don’t know where the information from Mike’s link comes from, but there are no teachers in the state making that much in regular salary. Not one.

  • Dave September 2, 2015 (8:19 pm)

    The only folks that should be striking are the parents whose kids attend the large majority of SPSs.

  • joel September 2, 2015 (8:25 pm)

    in regards to up to 86k and not being able to afford a home in Seattle. On a single income that may be true. however, most households are based on 2 income earners. Another spouse earning an equal 86k per year – at $172k per year household income you can certainly afford a nice home in Seattle…you’d likely qualify for a 600k plus home. If money was really tight one could always work year round with a summer job and make additional money to supplement the family income.

    I do support the teachers but at the same time let’s run numbers on that 86k salary and be realistic about what one can afford at that wage, in a dual income household.

  • Mike September 2, 2015 (8:33 pm)

    “What could our district be spending money on that is more important than teacher salaries?”
    Refurbishing and rebuilding schools that are actually hazardous to the health of our kids and those working at the schools? Maybe investing in some technology that brings more schools past 1999? Training for teachers so they are more current on better methods to help students, like Singapore Math.
    If we were to actually have district heads that could plan accordingly, we’d have lower headcount in classrooms. However, that also requires higher headcount in teachers, which is not cheap (even if they’re not all paid six figures).
    There’s a massive explosion in people moving to Seattle right now. Most are single or DINK (dual-income-no-kid) and young. In about 5 years we’ll see more students than ever before attending SPS schools and we’re already over capacity. I fully expect kids to be clustered into more portables, public libraries, community centers, pretty much any place that’s a public facility to handle the number of students that we’re not building out now to handle.
    That’s where some of that money should be spent, on the kids.

  • Lesley September 2, 2015 (8:50 pm)

    The teachers aren’t just fighting for a pay raise, they are fighting to be able to teach our kids the way they were taught to teach. Fighting to give recess to all elementary kids equally and fighting so they don’t have to spend such excessive amounts of time teaching the kids how to take all of the standardized tests they have to take, so much time. Thank you teachers for fighting for the best interest of the children, you deserve fair compensation. I support our teachers and appreciate their hard work.

  • Lynn September 2, 2015 (9:34 pm)


    There’s something wrong with the state schools payroll database. That guy couldn’t have been paid as a 2.0 FTE in 2012-13 (the year you linked to.)

    As for improved results from the schools, what type of results are you referencing? I’ve got two kids in two separate Seattle Public Schools and I think their schools are quite good.

    Technology is the last thing we need in our elementary schools.

    The city can (and certainly should) attach impact fees for new schools to building permits. Many other local governments in the state already do.

  • Lynn September 2, 2015 (9:38 pm)


    So you think as long as two teachers with 15 years experience each and PhDs can afford to buy a home, salaries are reasonable?

  • MOVE! Seattle PLEASE! September 2, 2015 (10:35 pm)

    Is the Seattle Times reporting not accurate?
    A SPS veteran teacher earning $79,788 after 12 years on the job? Isn’t that when a teacher would reach the end of the salary range and be considered a veteran teacher? that is a lot of money!
    My state job is providing a whopping 4% increase over 3 years.

  • dale September 2, 2015 (10:42 pm)

    I hope this does not go mediation. Generally, mediators come in with preconceived notions of what the issues are. They get paid up front by the parties and have no real skin in the game sorta speak. They try to convince both sides that there case is poor. Its a classic game of bluff. Teachers, if you feel u have a strong case go for it. Strike. Otherwise, do what I think u always do. You settle. Why?

  • flimflam September 2, 2015 (10:43 pm)

    school just about to start, insert threat of teacher strike/actual teacher strike year in year out it seems.

    • WSB September 2, 2015 (11:22 pm)

      Actually, no. Just checked our archives, which go to 2007. Settlements in late August in 2010 and 2013. That just happens to be when their contract expires. (August 31st in this year’s case) … As for an actual strike, per KUOW (I haven’t found a direct source yet but these folks are fairly reliable in my experience): “Seattle teachers haven’t gone on strike over a contract negotiation since 1985.”

  • JanS September 2, 2015 (11:30 pm)

    @Joel…im what world are all teachers partnered? Certainly not in my world. There are many, many single teachers out there, and nothing should be based /decided based on dual income homes….certainly not teacher’s salaries?

    @ flimflam…they’ve been negotiating since June. Was there a strike in Seattle last year? I don’t think so…

    @MOVE!SeattlePLEASE. Sure $79 thou plus is a lot of money. I’ve never made that ever. These are teachers, not your state job. I don’t know what you do, but I’m pretty sure that you don’t have the job of educating, molding our children for the future. How much is that worth? Everything , in my book. I,too, in a way have a government job. I’m 68 and get Social Security…and last years COLA was 1.7%. This year they are talking about none. We can’t compare every job as if they were equally important…so sorry you only got 4% raise.

  • Educator2 September 3, 2015 (12:00 am)

    This is not all about pay, but that seems to be getting most of the attention. Educator, I hate to tell you, but your rep is not correct. The 6% raise is based on your TRI money which is the portion of our pay that SPS provides. It wasn’t until after I had been teaching for 7years and I had gotten my Master’s degree that I felt like I was starting to be fairly compensated as a teacher. It is so much more of a job than just teaching academics. After 12 years I had maxed out unless I paid for more college courses/professional development. I did not take the summer off–i paid for classes to try to work toward a higher salary. I could not live in seattle if I were not married with my husband’s income coming in as well. I have not had a raise for 6years and the last time I did, it was 1% of my base salary. Most teachers would love the raise, but sincerely, we are more concerned about SPS’s leadership, top-heavy district office that seems disjointed from the schools, and ESPECIALLY the education of our kids. Everytime SPS makes a decision they should be asking, ‘is this is what is best for the education of our kids?’
    The issues:
    – reducing caseloads for support staff
    -guaranteeing recess time at all elementary schools as kids need those break of playtime, as play is learning time and social skills building time too.
    -student equity in regards to discipline
    -reducing the amount of time spent testing instead of learning
    -attracting and retaining highly qualified teachers by increasing the TRI portion of the salary and the issue of the district asking the teachers to work a half hour more without compensation
    SPS needs to listen to the teachers. We care about the kids we teach and their future.

  • Mike September 3, 2015 (6:37 am)

    “Technology is the last thing we need in our elementary schools”
    And that’s the mentality that’s forcing our country to fall behind.

  • joel September 3, 2015 (7:21 am)

    @Jan……if everyone’s affordability to purchase a home in Seattle was based on only one income then most of Seattle should be going on strike then due to not being able to afford a home………..
    @Lynn…I was responding to the 7th comment down made by DCN. 86k per year extended to a 12 month position comes to 115k per year.

  • Marianne September 3, 2015 (7:38 am)

    joel-a teacher’s salary is split over 12 months. Benefits are rolled into the salary, making it appear that teachers take home more than they actually do. I have always said, that as a single person without children, my salary after 16 years of teaching plus a Masters Degree, supports me, and only me, comfortably.

  • lautenbk September 3, 2015 (8:33 am)

    I support our teachers. They are fighting for what is right for them and for our students!

  • AML September 3, 2015 (9:24 am)

    @Educator2- So glad you said that! Our schools/teachers need much more support. To have a elementary classroom with 5-6 behavioral students is ridiculous and expect the teacher to be effectual? Crazy! The fact that the district is requiring more time- for what? Enforcing more tests? The district is so far removed from these schools- it is unbelievable. I support these teachers and the others in this.

  • JTB September 3, 2015 (9:47 am)

    Lawless, I believe the teachers are in fact imparting an important lesson to students. It has to do with labor history and the importance of collective action to achieve adequate compensation and working conditions in spite of attempts by management and even government to constrain those worthy goals.

  • HP Gal September 3, 2015 (10:21 am)

    Ack!!!! The media is not getting this right and the union is not communicating this well AT ALL. We are NOT asking for a 21% pay raise. We are asking for a 21% raise in our extra day pay (TRI) pay. This amounts to hundreds more in pay for teachers, not thousands.

  • OldTeacher NewParent September 3, 2015 (11:22 am)

    An interesting perspective on one of the teacher asks surrounding recess:

    As a parent of a kindergartener, it frightens me a little to have her going to go from unlimited afternoons to play to (2) 20 minute recesses – and we’re a lucky school… one school in our area only gets 1 recess. For a 5 year old!!!

  • Educator September 3, 2015 (12:45 pm)

    Guys, it is on our base salary. From the SEA proposal on the district website (asterisks mine):

    “Across the Board (ATB) raises for all three
    bargaining units (Certificated, Parapro, SAEOP):
    Three year contract:
    7% raise effective September 1, 2015
    7% raise effective September 1, 2016
    7% raise effective September 1, 2017
    SAEOP and Parapro increases applied to every cell of every salary schedule. ***Certificated raise calculated on base, and paid on TRI.***
    Amounts are in addition to state- funded raises.”
    These base salary amounts are based on our 2012-2013 salary schedule, since it has remained unchanged since that time.

    Our latest proposal was 6% instead of 7%.
    . (at the bottom, SEA proposals)

    I agree that compensation is only one issue we are fighting for. Recess, excessive standardized testing, equity, fair and accurate evaluations — these are critical issues worth striking over.
    And compensation is important. I would not strike over a 6% increase in my TRI pay, though.
    Mr. Nyland well knows he shouldn’t be including the COLA in the total percentage of “raise,” a COLA is NOT a raise.
    @MOVE!SeattlePLEASE, ALL other state employees have received an increase in the state’s contribution to health care, EXCEPT certificated educators and others working in schools, who are represented by our union.
    It seems anyone with any knowledge of what teachers (and other certificated staff, office staff and parapros) do on a daily basis, is in support. That is heartening and we so appreciate your support! @Educator2 is right, we care about the kids and their future. That is what we are fighting for.

  • Josh September 3, 2015 (12:52 pm)

    Some say its not about pay, for some reason every few years its strike time and the same issues arise again and again it always boils down to pay, and benefits.

  • GOP in WS September 3, 2015 (3:05 pm)

    I hope it’s not about pay because Seattle teachers already have the highest salary in the state. Negotiate down the annual raises in return for recess, testing, etc.

  • joel September 3, 2015 (5:00 pm)

    why aren’t the proposed increases tied to performance?….why not have a range of 0-10% or something…..the highly performing teachers get the higher percentage and if you don’t perform well then maybe you get zero or maybe you are out of a job. I realize it’s a union but why not pay for performance?…what’s the incentive to do better when everyone gets the same increase regardless of performance?

  • MOVE! Seattle PLEASE! September 3, 2015 (9:57 pm)

    Teachers have public service jobs, just like other government employees. They need to help keep government and TAXES in check!
    Thank you Marianne for your comment!!!
    “I have always said, that as a single person without children, my salary after 16 years of teaching plus a Masters Degree, supports me, and only me, comfortably. Comment by Marianne”
    A teacher, at least I assume you are a teacher, who accepts their pay and finds it reasonable! Everyone must find a balance and live within their means. I live in Seattle, as a single parent, on a lower salary then most teachers – if I can do it they should be able to too.

  • Educator September 4, 2015 (12:21 am)

    @GOP that is not correct. Seattle teachers are the third highest paid in the state. Guess whose highest? Everett. There is a substantial difference in cost of living between Seattle and Everett. Seattle teachers, office staff and instructional assistants SHOULD be the highest paid in the state.
    Here are some more fun facts:
    SEA( union) includes office staff and instructional assistants. Our proposal includes the same raise amount for them.
    Most of our Instructional assistants cannot afford to live in the city and have long commutes. They end up taking jobs closer to home and we are understaffed as a result.
    Our building office staff are overworked and understaffed. If they put in for overtime it comes out of their building’s budget. None of them want to strain the school’s already tight budget, so none of them ask for overtime pay, even though some of them are on food stamps and/or have 2 or 3 extra jobs. One of the union’s proposals asks for their overtime pay to come out of district funds, instead of individual building funds.

    Counselors, psychologists, speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and nurses are all overworked and have bigger caseloads than is recommended by their professional associations. Some occupational therapists and speech language pathologists have 50 students on their caseload! That is unrealistic not to mention unethical. Nurses work in three buildings a week!

Sorry, comment time is over.