VIDEO: Union meeting ends with vote to suspend the strike; school starts Thursday; membership vote Sunday

4 PM: We’re at the IAM Local 751 Hall in South Park, where Seattle Education Association leaders and building (individual schools) reps are meeting to decide whether to suspend the strike pending a membership vote on the tentative contract agreement reached early this morning. A few minutes ago, SEA spokesperson Rich Wood emerged to tell us and other media that it’s likely to be at least half an hour – 4:30 or so – before they have something to announce. The results of this meeting will determine whether school does or does not start on Thursday (Wednesday’s already been ruled out by the district). Updates to come.

4:39 PM UPDATE: We’re still waiting. While what’s happening in the meeting isn’t audible outside, aside from bursts of applause now and then, we did hear that lots of questions were being asked. (4:44 pm – Right after we wrote that, Wood came out to tell us exactly that – it’s still going to be a while longer as 15 or so people are still in line to ask questions, plus there are people standing by to offer pros and cons. “They’re very thorough – they’re educators,” he noted.)

(Added: WSB photo inside meeting room, once media was allowed in as participants departed)

5:57 PM UPDATE: It’s a little chaotic in here but word is they voted to END THE STRIKE.

6:16 PM UPDATE: Bargainers just finished their media briefing (updated – hi-res video replacing low-res version).

Technically, this vote was to SUSPEND the strike. It’s not formally over until membership vote, which we’re told will be Sunday. But school WILL start Thursday, both the union AND district now say. Adding contract details that we have heard here (and from printed copy we’ve procured):

*30 “equity teams” – 10 schools the first year, 10 more the second year, 10 more the third year.
*Also re: equity: “Partnership Committee between SPS, SEA, and community reps to eliminate disproportionate discipline”
*SEA and SPS will determine how the lost days are made up
*Compensation – same raises for certificated, SAEOPs, paraprofessionals
-3.0% raise now, with 3% added state COLA
-2.0% raise in 2016, with 1.8% added state COLA
-4.5% raise in 2017

*Recess, as previously reported, at least 30 minutes per day “during the student instructional day”

*Calendar: Full midwinter break every year, school starts first Wednesday in September, “rules to develop calendar in any year so staff and families can plan ahead”

*Re: testing, “no more Seattle student growth rating … evaluation language updated … SEA and SPS agree to jointly petition (state) regarding use of focused scores”

ADDED 7:15 PM: Other key points:

Student day increase beginning in 2017-18: “Student day is extended 20 minutes each day, within the 7.5 hour teacher workday; students are released one hour early (or arrive one hour late) once per week. Net increase in student instructional time, 22-25 minutes per week. Building Leadership Teams still set the school schedule just as they do now.

Pay for longer student day: 100 minutes – 60 paid as collaboration, 15-18 paid as prep, 13.3 paid as tech, 10 paid as .5% of 3rd year raise.

Special Education: Special Ed preschool ratio lowered to 10:1:2, Distinct (social/emotional) classrooms lowered to 7:1:2, Special Ed Task Force will review special ed coasts; savings will be redirected to reduce employee workloads. Special Ed Team to decide on Instructional Assistant deployment when students are grouped across classrooms in a building.

ESA Caseloads: Enforceable caseload ratios for the first time.

The list continues – we’re still looking for an electronic version of the toplines so we can just link.

9:03 PM: See comments for a few other quotes from the printed summary. Also a note: Teachers will be back on campus tomorrow, to get ready for the start of classes Thursday.

59 Replies to "VIDEO: Union meeting ends with vote to suspend the strike; school starts Thursday; membership vote Sunday"

  • kumalavula September 15, 2015 (4:15 pm)

    thank you wsblog for continuing to be THE best source of (breaking) news regarding the start of the school year!

  • Joe Szilagyi September 15, 2015 (4:27 pm)

    SPS apparently stupidly announced “strike over”, when, uh, that’s not their decision. They apparently told ALL parents. Details:

    • WSB September 15, 2015 (4:31 pm)

      Yes, we reported that in the last story. They’ve tried to “clarify” it via another tweet but it said the same thing, and the union hasn’t announced its decision yet … (Edit) We reported the tweet version. Haven’t seen the letter. Any parent reading this, no announcement as of 4:36 … we’re here with the entirety of the media corps.

  • Rachel September 15, 2015 (4:54 pm)

    Thanks so much for posting these updates!

  • AM September 15, 2015 (5:31 pm)

    Pins and needles!

    • WSB September 15, 2015 (5:48 pm)

      Us too. Still more than a dozen of us from online, TV, radio, print camped out. It seemed pretty silent for a while and we wondered if they were voting … but now it’s back to sporadic applause and some people speaking at mikes. The union spokesperson told us it would be a print ballot, not voice vote.

  • M September 15, 2015 (5:57 pm)

    So I’m kinda confused.. So if the students go back to school on Thursday. And if the vote is not majority. Do they go back on strike? I don’t see why they should start school so soon. They should wait till vote is over. Then start the year .

  • SchoolVolunteer September 15, 2015 (5:58 pm)

    Word on the street is that they passed it, although many were quite unhappy with the contract.

  • GOP in WS September 15, 2015 (5:59 pm)

    The focus of the posts in other the thread is about how to make up the strike days.
    But I want to know if the school day will be extended with the new contract. What are the new school hours? Is this a 2 year or 3 year contract?

  • Bsmomma September 15, 2015 (6:00 pm)


  • Cera Syrah September 15, 2015 (6:03 pm)

    Yes! I’m a teacher and received a text from the SEA saying that our reps voted to end the strike! I have no details on the contract but await the news anxiously. Can’t wait to get into my classroom :)

  • fatherofthreeinsps September 15, 2015 (6:05 pm)

    King reporting “strike suspension”…to mean while voting or vote agreement affirmative?

  • WS Teacher September 15, 2015 (6:14 pm)

    They couldn’t have voted to end the strike, only to suspend it until the general membership can convene to vote. In the vote to authorize a strike, we agreed to suspend the strike once a tentative agreement is reached.

    Which I really hope has happened. So does every Seattle teacher I know. But we still need to be clear: the general membership will vote on ending the strike.

    • WSB September 15, 2015 (6:18 pm)

      Yes, sorry, it’s technically SUSPENDING the strike, the membership vote is Sunday, as added above. But school WILL start Thursday, both sides now have affirmed. We and others had already reported it is a three-year contract proposal. We’re looking for something in writing with the numbers – it’s very noisy in here. The one number I can tell you with certainty – regarding the “equity teams” at schools – they will start with 10 in the first year, 10 more in the second year, 10 in the third year to equal 30 in all (out of 97 schools) by this contract’s end.

  • fatherofthreeinsps September 15, 2015 (6:22 pm)

    Thanks WS Teacher and WSB for clarification. While I have you…is it ok the start sentences with “But?” Haha. 😊 Tentative Congrats!! Well deserved

    • WSB September 15, 2015 (6:38 pm)

      Father o’ 3, while I’m generally impeccable on spelling, I’m colloquial on grammar. No problem with ending sentences in prepositions, etc. But I probably do start too many sentences with “and” and “but,” ha. I’ve been better lately at editing out the latter; will have to keep a closer eye on the former.

  • Robin September 15, 2015 (6:25 pm)

    Thank you WSB for excellent coverage of this strike! My go-to news source!

  • Teacher2 September 15, 2015 (6:38 pm)

    Thank you WSB for your speedy and thorough coverage! So happy to be back in the classroom this week!!

  • HappyOnAlki September 15, 2015 (6:51 pm)

    But Father, yes, it is OK. And WSB is impeccable on grammar — would that the rest of our media were half as good.

  • Mike September 15, 2015 (7:11 pm)

    Let’s hope the vote is to agree to end the strike and move on. Time to focus on the kids.

  • Westside Teacher September 15, 2015 (7:15 pm)

    Will the video be available tonight? I’m curious about what the SEA said in its press conference.

    • WSB September 15, 2015 (7:31 pm)

      WT – the low-res version I sent to YouTube doesn’t seem to have gone through. Patrick recorded a higher-res version on his camera – I’m at a community meeting but checking on whether he’s uploading. And I’m trying the phone version again.

  • Kate September 15, 2015 (7:24 pm)

    Excellent reporting WSB as always.

  • Deborah Kasperson September 15, 2015 (7:35 pm)


    Thank you WSB for the coverage, as always you are the go to for updates and news. I was in Starbucks this AM on Admiral and someone walked in and mentioned strike was over, and three people said out loud ‘check the blog, check the blog!!’…testament to your awesomeness.

    • WSB September 15, 2015 (7:43 pm)

      Thanks for the kind words. Yesterday marked our eighth anniversary as a business (the date the state granted our LLC) and the world of information reporting/sharing/etc. has changed a lot in that time – we’re working hard to continue to provide value. – TR
      P.S. Just added the aforementioned clip after re-uploading from the phone – note that it’s five minutes with the bargainers; I didn’t start recording until after Jonathan Knapp, SEA president, finished speaking. I think Patrick did but won’t be sure till I get home after this meeting.

  • Lauren September 15, 2015 (8:04 pm)

    Does anyone know if the state cola applies to the entire salary, or just the base salary? I know the district raises only apply to the base salary, which is 76% off the total salary…

    • WSB September 15, 2015 (8:19 pm)

      Lauren, the handout “SEA Tentative Agreement Summary” which we picked up at the end of the meeting in South Park elaborates:

      “For paras and SAEOPs, raises are applied to your hourly rate. For certs, raises are a percentage of your base pay, but paid as TRI. This is the method we have always used and what is used across the state. All staff (paras, SAEOPs and certs) will receive 8 hours tech pay in 2017-18 (.63%). 2017-2018 secondary certificated staff will begin receiving one hour collaborative pay that elementary currently receive (2.86%).”

      – That’s the entirety of the elaboration on compensation (aside from the toplines


      – caps theirs). – TR

  • GHS mom September 15, 2015 (8:13 pm)

    WSB- you rock. Your coverage has been outstanding. I was sitting at a high school soccer game with parents from around the city, and I had the most up-to-date information thanks to you!

  • WSBliss September 15, 2015 (8:18 pm)

    Anniversary congratulations, Tracy and WSB!!

    Thank you for your tireless work to support our West Seattle community.

  • A September 15, 2015 (8:53 pm)

    You state the third year is that biggest raise ever for certificated staff by that district?
    4.5% of their base pay? What’s the raise on their total pay? 4.5% on only 75% of your pay seems extremely confusing.

  • Dr Kate September 15, 2015 (9:16 pm)

    Woohoo! My kids are looking forward to starting school.

    Thanks for the excellent coverage WSB!

  • D2 September 15, 2015 (9:29 pm)

    Haven’t seen the spin or expert assessment yet, but at first glance this looks like the teachers got slightly better pay than the district’s original, best-we-can-do offer, and made significant gains on their other priorities: race and income equity across schools, caseload relief for some of the most challenging services, and reduction of the student-testing burden. To me, the fact that the teachers were willing to relax their pay demands to get the other concessions seems to validate what they were saying all along: that it wasn’t really primarily about the pay.

  • Teacher mom September 15, 2015 (9:41 pm)

    The pay is confusing for us employees also. Today it was explained and I hope I can help you understand. Every district has 2 pay categories #1. Base pay (paid by state, same scale for all districts) #2. TRI pay( each district pays this and they vary greatly from district to district). Our COLA increase will be paid by state to all districts and added to base pay. Our TRI increase ( based on entry level base pay then added to TRI pay scale). That means, if it were currently based on our $34,048 base pay, our 4.5% increase = $1,532.16.
    Although 4.5% sounds great! other districts just gave 6% + 6%. So how do we compete with them to get highly qualified teachers when they pay more and are in cities with more affordable housing?
    See link for more details on pay scales.

  • D2 September 15, 2015 (10:11 pm)

    Thanks, Teacher Mom, that’s the first time I’ve seen that explained clearly enough for me to grasp.

  • Nw mama September 15, 2015 (11:03 pm)

    They haven’t gotten a raise since 2007 – id be out the door if this was what my employer offered me.

  • John September 16, 2015 (7:50 am)

    The effective or real “raises” comparable to what is a “raise” in industry, if you will, combining the state base and local TRI money is:
    Year 1 – 4.55%
    Year 2 – 2.86%
    Year 3 – 3.39%
    Compounded it’s “raise” of 11.18% after 3-years. Actually that should go up slightly as there should be a state COLA next biennium for the 3rd year. This helps start to make up for lost ground the last 6 years.
    As D2 noted there were finally a lot of wins in this agreement (equity teams/efforts, caseload support – but still some category issues, more balanced/less testing, and the dropping of the widely discredited Seattle Growth something or another… I forget the exact name right now). Hopefully the “comparable raise” #s help clarify -despite the kind of complex structure we’re in Teachermom tried to clarify.

  • WSB September 16, 2015 (7:53 am)

    It’s in the story, just above “added 7:15 pm,” Seattle Student Growth Rating – I didn’t know whether it was a formal name or not, because the declaration is in all caps at the start of the summary for certificated employees: “NO MORE SEATTLE STUDENT GROWTH RATING!” – TR

  • Teacher September 16, 2015 (7:57 am)

    I think a contributing factor to ending the strike quickly is social media.
    Thank you WSB for your accurate and timely reporting! And also for allowing community members to air their opinions.

  • Teacher September 16, 2015 (8:19 am)

    I appreciate the comment on how teachers fought on many issues and sacrificed on pay was noted.

    What is disheartening is to see people in the community pour out in hate for teachers as “Get back to work!” and “All you want is money, your a teacher, don’t expect more.”

    The majority of posts againsts the strike were fueled against teachers demanding unrealistic pay.

    Teachers sacrificed on pay, other districts in the state which have extremely lower costs of living, fought and got 5% raises. We already cannot keep teachers with SPS, and this will get worse. Why choose the most expensive city in the state that can’t even keep up with raises in other areas of the state?

    I see few jumping out in praise that we fought for the kids. They think it’s all about the money, so misinformed, so frustrating.

    I am not speaking for everyone. There were many that were backing us. I’m just speaking to the many I saw speak out against “us” as educators.

    This continues the cycle of everything that is wrong with education in the US. Look at other countries and educate yourselves.

  • Amy September 16, 2015 (8:29 am)

    Stellar reporting as usual, WSB! West Seattle is so fortunate to have “the blog” – even my mother-in-law in Europe knows I mean you when I say that. You are such a terrific asset to this community; thank you!

  • Teacher 2 September 16, 2015 (8:51 am)

    Also to be expected that SPS agreed to most issues but pay, to get students back in school without voting, to place the community against us.
    Sneaky SPS.

  • Frustrated No More September 16, 2015 (9:36 am)

    I am very happy to see an agreement reached. I also appreciate that the teachers were willing to give in on some of the salary raises to tackle other issues that will have long standing impact. Fighting against the testing was very noble, and hopefully this will generate momentum to substantially decrease the testing, especially in the lower grades. If any parents do not think this was a significant victory please read the book “More Than a Test Score” written by a local Garfield High School teacher. It is a huge struggle to convince an entire school district to lighten up on the testing.

    Yes, some teachers will look to leave to get a better salary in another district, but its not like there will be a plethora of open positions in every district. Jobs are about three things-location, pay, and content of the work. A lot of people are willing to sacrifice pay for location. San Diego has historically paid a lot less than much cheaper locations because its known that people want to live there.

    When voting on Sunday please don’t lose sight of the reason you went on strike in the first place! We were repeatedly told it wasn’t all about pay so don’t let it become about pay on Sunday.

  • T Rex September 16, 2015 (9:50 am)

    Teacher, great comments.

    I am guessing that most of the people who were talking bad about the teachers were the ones who were taken off guard by the strike and then had to scramble to find day care or babysitters. Then it was all about them.

    Since this has been going on since May, I would like to think that if I had kids, I would anticipated a strike and planned accordingly.

    I am glad you guys got what you wanted, you deserve every cent you earn and then some.

  • HOB September 16, 2015 (10:09 am)

    Can someone explain the income and race disparity issue? This seems like a parenting issue and not something that teacher’s can really impact

  • miws September 16, 2015 (10:09 am)

    Teacher, other Educators, and everyone else that calmly posted facts, and Teacher support, amid the angry anti-Teacher comments, on all of WSB’s excellent coverage of the Strike; Thank You!


    So many times, I wanted to respond to the angry comments, with my own, but feared it would just result in a pissing match, and raise my stress level too much. I even got to the point that on a few of the strike related stories, I didn’t go back and read newer comments.


    I’ve never had kids, and likely won’t this late in life, but want my friends’ kids, and other future adults to be educated, and to be successful, at whatever level of “success”, they desire and can achieve. Of course, Teachers throughout the kids’ education, will be a, maybe even the primary source of the kids achieving that. You have a tough job, you don’t do it for the “big bucks”, you do it because you have a passion for children, and their success.


    One more thing I’ll say about the “bashers”, and this relates to comments elsewhere on WSB’s coverage, by one or more commenters; I just hope they oppose professional sports players huge salaries, with hundreds, if not thousands times the amount of passion, as they have with Teachers’ raises. Now, they may argue; “Well, my taxes aren’t paying the pro athletes!”, but they would be missing the point.



  • Lez September 16, 2015 (10:38 am)

    Right on Mike.Sports stars and CEO’s bonuses are out of control.Way too much money. But these are paid by ticket buyers and stockholders. So what do I do? Don’t buy tickets or stock. I HAVE to pay taxes from which teachers are paid

    • WSB September 16, 2015 (10:43 am)

      Datapoint on that – more than a few sports operations and commercial corporations get tax breaks (see: Boeing) and subsidies, play in publicly built arenas (see: Kingdome paid off, decade-plus after implosion), etc., so they do affect the taxes we pay. (And yes, I know, they in turn are a boon to some businesses – vendors who sell in or near the stadiums, etc. – but it’s all interwoven. Education, for example, has benefits we don’t quantify here but that certainly add to the overall bottom line.) – TR

  • Marie September 16, 2015 (10:59 am)

    Trex, you and some others seem to have very little sympathy for low income families impacted most by the strike and childcare issues resulting. Not everyone has options, especially these families! If one cares about the school children in those families they will have empathy for the impact they have experienced. These are just the children and families our educational system need to embrace. I wish more folks would keep this in mind.

  • Rope September 16, 2015 (11:37 am)

    There is still a lot of work to be done. Teachers asked for a “fair” contract. They got a contract that is “fair to middlin'”. It is the kind of contract Seattle Teachers should have been able to negotiate without a strike. It is clear that positional bargaining was in place. Ask for a pony to get a kitten was what we witnessed. No operating principles were in place. SEA maintains that the district wouldn’t agree to them. If your bargaining representatives can’t negotiate basic operating principles, negotiations are doomed from the start. It is time to look to other districts and education associations that negotiated better contracts without a strike. That SEA’s representative assembly vote was a close one is not a cause for celebration. It is cause for a deep reexamination.

  • miws September 16, 2015 (12:05 pm)

    Lez, and TR; thanks for the points you each bring up. I agree wholeheartedly on the CEO bonuses, and that often comes to mind when comparing salaries of regular working people, especially jobs like teaching and nursing, but didn’t this time. We could also add other popular entertainers, beyond sports. I actually thought of the tax breaks point, and agree with it 100%.


    I almost didn’t bring up the point of taxes, but did so, as sort of a pre-emptive measure, to some comments I would expect may show up countering my own. Nor did I really feel like digging up citations some challengers of my comment might expect. :-)


  • D2 September 16, 2015 (2:05 pm)

    Rope, it sounds like you have some expertise and ideas about how the union could have bargained more effectively. But I want to start with your entirely on-the-mark observation, “It is the kind of contract Seattle Teachers should have been able to negotiate without a strike.” Yes. And another way to see this is that the union and its concerns hadn’t been taken seriously enough before the strike. Perhaps strikes are occasionally necessary for unions to maintain their bargaining position?

    I hope that 3 years from now, as well as in the interim, teachers will be granted true respect working with the district to fix what’s wrong, improve the system, etc., not just seen as an obstacle to push to the side. And when adequate state funds are finally allocated, I hope that teachers will be remembered as the most important investment in fact, not just because they might be the squeakiest wheel.

  • T Rex September 16, 2015 (3:15 pm)


    I have compassion to a point. I would love to opine about having a child when you are right above the poverty line, but I will not go there today.

  • Rope September 16, 2015 (5:18 pm)

    D2, There are conditions that lead to successful negotiations. These were not in place in Seattle.

    1. Joint SEA and SPS training in interest based bargaining.
    2. Agreed to operating principles.
    3. Educate administrators, teachers, and the public about district finances.
    4. A thorough survey of all stakeholders in order to prioritize district issues.
    5. Make a pact to complete negotiations by the end of May.
    6. Agree to binding arbitration if negations aren’t settled by the target date.

    Blaming has never saved a partnership, resolved a disagreement, or healed a relationship. Replacing people doesn’t solve problems either. You have to change behaviors and systems. Claiming victory after putting systemic dysfunction on display doesn’t demonstrate the kind of awareness that leads to change. There is a lot of work to be done.

  • Elizabeth September 16, 2015 (5:27 pm)

    This is not over!

    Yes, SEA made great gains on social justice issues. But, somehow, through negotiations our compensation was traded away for recess, equity programs, and removal of a failed evaluation system. All of which should have been promoted by the district’s agenda and not pieces the SEA should have needed to fight for to make happen.

    It was never all about the pay, but the pay is a very important part. Please understand that the 3% pay increase applies only to the base pay, which is about 75% of the total pay, effectively a 2.25% increase.

    The Tentative Agreement is far from a professional, competitive salary! Additionally, we did not achieve caseload caps for counselors, nurses, or special education. We should vote NO on this contract.

    Many school workers are feeling concerned about community support and public perception if we are to reject this contract. Some are fearful that we will lose the social justice gains we have made so far.
    Teachers will be teaching on Thursday and Friday. We need some big support and pressure on SPS to address pay and caseload caps and to amend the TA before it goes to a vote on Sunday. NONE OF US WANT TO GO BACK ON STRIKE!

  • Annie September 16, 2015 (6:28 pm)

    Overall, the district is giving a 9% raise over 3 years on 75% of a teacher’s base salary. However, 3.99% of that “raise” is paying teachers more for the 4.6% increase in the work day. That is NOT a raise!!

  • Marie September 16, 2015 (9:26 pm)

    Trex, so only middle and upper class people get to have families?

  • D2 September 16, 2015 (10:50 pm)

    Rope, I think what you are saying makes sense, even if it’s aspirational. “Claiming victory after putting systemic dysfunction on display doesn’t demonstrate the kind of awareness that leads to change.” Right on.

    Marie, I had a similar reaction/question.

  • SPS Teacher September 16, 2015 (11:42 pm)

    Elizabeth. One cannot simply amend a TA. Everything in the TA was agreed on by both bargaining teams. It cannot be changed at this point. It can only be rejected.

  • Rope September 17, 2015 (10:44 am)

    In districts where the above conditions are in place excellent contracts have been negotiated. It is a lot of work to create those conditions. It is also a cultural shift for people who see their counterparts as adversaries. In WEA’s world strikes are celebrated. Strike memorabilia plasters their walls. Note that the most effective communication from the SEA came in the form of a declaration of victory. When WEA’s next newsletter comes out we will see photos of striking teachers and read about Seattle’s great win for teachers everywhere. Teachers who earned far better contracts using collaborative techniques will be all but ignored. Yes, creating a healthy relationship between the SPS and the SEA is aspirational, but it has been done in other districts. It’s a whole lot more powerful than walking around in circles holding signs and being left in the dark by your Union!

Sorry, comment time is over.