Seattle Public Schools contract talks: Union’s latest update

With eight days left until Seattle Public Schools classes are scheduled to start, the district’s still negotiating with the Seattle Education Association. When we reported on the district’s latest update last Friday, we didn’t have new information from the union; now we do. From the SEA update posted online last night:

In the spirit of good-faith bargaining, the SEA Bargaining Team (Monday) morning provided school district administrators with significant counterproposals on recess and pay.

On recess, the SEA Bargaining Team proposed a guaranteed 30 to 45 minutes of recess each day (our previous proposal was for a guaranteed 45 minutes).

On pay, our team proposed a raise of 6 percent a year for three years, for a total raise of 18 percent (in addition to the state COLA). Our previous proposal called for annual 7 percent raises.

As of 4 pm Monday, the school district administration bargaining team had not formally responded to either of the new SEA proposals.

SEA members are still scheduled to take a vote this Thursday (September 3rd) – on either a strike, or a tentative agreement (if one has been reached by then). Before then, they’re planning informational picketing at high schools around the city tomorrow afternoon. Their contract expired yesterday; they’ve been in talks with the district for more than three months.

23 Replies to "Seattle Public Schools contract talks: Union's latest update"

  • Mcbride September 1, 2015 (12:06 pm)

    Do the right thing SPS. Create an organization that attracts and retains the best talent available.
    That’s how the professionals do it.

  • Alex September 1, 2015 (1:13 pm)

    i am an SPS parent and I stand with the teachers. A strike will be the fault of the district. Meet the teachers at least half way.

  • kayo September 1, 2015 (3:37 pm)

    I stand with the teachers as well even though I desperately (ha ha) want my kids to go back to school a week from tomorrow.

    • WSB September 1, 2015 (3:41 pm)

      The union has since sent a media update (this one was a general update I found on their website late last night) saying the picketing tomorrow is 3:30-5:30 pm and confirming the campuses include both Sealth and WSHS. It’s after their scheduled “non-student workday.” – TR

  • Nw mama September 1, 2015 (4:16 pm)

    Good for the teachers standing up for what’s bestfor them (pay) and what’s best for the kids (play time!)!!!

  • Wsparent September 1, 2015 (4:25 pm)

    I stand with the teachers. It is time to step up SPS.

  • We aka September 1, 2015 (5:59 pm)

    We stand with teachers, get with it SPS for once do something proactive and sane!!! Make up for the last well… Forever.

  • Stephanie Juha September 1, 2015 (6:26 pm)

    We stand with the teachers! Please be proactive, for once, and not reactive. Get with the times! SPS is not an accurate reflection of the progressive ideals of western WA!

  • Stephanie Juha September 1, 2015 (6:27 pm)

    Also, if you have the time, please offer to volunteer at your local Seattle Schools to help the teachers get their classrooms ready for the first day of school. They will be locked out if they are pushed to strike!

  • GOP in WS September 1, 2015 (6:40 pm)

    Seattle teachers have the highest salary in the state already.

  • dcn September 1, 2015 (7:58 pm)

    I do not understand how anyone who wants to do “what’s best for kids” can think that less than 45 minutes of recess per day does more good than harm. More instructional time does not necessarily mean quality instructional time. Every study I’ve ever read indicates that without enough down time and exercise time, students do not focus as well. Schools in Finland, the country whose education system we often aspire to, give 15 minutes out of every hour for recess:
    The average recess time in Finland is 75 minutes:
    I would hope that the district leaders would realize the benefits of recess for children’s mental and physical well-being. I think it’s crazy that it has to be a bargaining issue for teachers. More instructional time is probably lost due to classroom disruptions related to kids cooped up too long without being able to release their energy than is gained by reducing recess time.
    I do not think the teachers’ union should have backed down on the 45 minute guaranteed recess request. My son gets a 15 minute morning recess, 20 minutes following lunch, and 15 minutes in the afternoon. It’s 50 minutes total, which seems pretty minimal to me. He certainly feels it is.

  • West Seattle Teacher September 1, 2015 (8:06 pm)

    Thank you for supporting SEA members. We want to be in our classes the morning of the 9th but we need to do what is best for our families, our students, and our profession.

  • WS parent and teacher September 1, 2015 (8:54 pm)

    As both a parent and the daughter of a SPS teacher, I support the teachers. I have grown up seeing how much work and time goes in to educating the next generation, just to watch these amazing educators struggle themselves…the district needs to fully support the teachers and their hard work

  • OP September 1, 2015 (11:09 pm)

    6% a year? No wonder the district didn’t respond. That is I-N-S-A-N-E. What results can SEA point to where that justifies that amount?

    In the private sector, most workers would be laughed out of their boss’s office without ample justification on a Power Point.

    3%, okay. That’s more in line with reality.

  • AMD September 1, 2015 (11:22 pm)

    After not receiving any raises at all for years, a raise higher than inflation is needed just to catch up to the relative pay they had years ago. And their pay is such that even a 6% raise is ~$1000 per year (depending on degree, etc.)
    Being the highest paid in the state doesn’t mean they’re adequately compensated, it means they’re the first car in the slow lane. Whoop-dee-do.
    I stand with the teachers. The district needs to do what’s right for the kids with the recess proposals and pay fair wages for the work educators do.

  • Mr. Teacher September 2, 2015 (6:57 am)

    OP, you are mistaken. As folks have provided in the past articles, it is NOT 6% of our total pay. It is 6% of our TRI pay, what the city provides. We are not negotiating with our state money. Fore me this equates to very little. I am on the higher end of the pay schedule (Masters Plus). 3% of my TRI would be $45/month a paycheck, 6% would be $90/month. These are BEFORE tax numbers. I have been teaching for almost 20 years and have never felt so slighted by district bargaining…

    Here is a link to the pay schedule in case you need more than just my word…

  • Gatewood Gurl September 2, 2015 (9:54 am)

    think teaching is easy? Try it!

  • RealityCheck September 2, 2015 (4:35 pm)

    Total compensation is over $90k/year for SPS teachers – salary + benefits–>30% of compensation (don’t forget the guaranteed pension). Teachers as do most local and state workers, trade higher present income for future guaranteed benefits in the form of a pension that most private sector workers do not have – we get to contribute to our 401Ks and ride all the fluctuations in the market. Private sector workers maybe get 2-5 weeks per year off. If I look at the 2014-15, SPS calendar year, starting Sept 2014, I count 15 weeks off- it would’ve been 16 except they just did one day for mid-winter break after the President’s Day Holiday. This excludes other holidays and the once-a-month early dismissals at noon for “professional development.” Teacher seminars in the summer maybe amount to a week or 2 maximum and are certainly not undertaken every year by every teacher. Lesson plans are mostly recycled from year-to-year once they have their first year under their belt or colleagues to kibbutz with. Why focus on TRI at 7% or this or that line item – it’s total compensation that we are forgetting here and teachers are vastly rewarded for that – they’ve traded high current income for overall lifetime earnings. Fair enough that you can’t make a living – I agree, but don’t muddy the waters and say you are underpaid – the entire system is broken. Elsewise, I’d be looking for a Scott Walker type here in Western Washington to clean up 1) by getting rid of the pensions, 2) move to a true 4-5 weeks off/year – do real teacher development/teach a longer day/year 3) raise your salary to match other local or state workers – $80-$90k. OK, after those changes – I’ll listen to the teachers whine otherwise I consider them supremely fairly compensated against the private sector and expect them to do their jobs or else move on to a different career.

  • Educator September 2, 2015 (7:52 pm)

    Mr. Teacher, the raise is actually based on our BASE state salary (of 2012-2013). The raise itself would be paid as TRI pay. The union has not done a good job communicating this. They haven’t, in my opinion, done a good job countering the spin machine at the district putting out the emails from Mr. Nyland, either.

    Based on our current 6%/ year proposal, a teacher with 10 years experience and a BA+90 makes 50,000 base salary (funded by the state), $15,000 TRI (funded by the district). The first year, he would make $3,000 more, the second year he would make $3,000 more, and the third year of the contract another $3,000, for a salary of $50,000 +24,000 in TRI at the end of the 3rd year. The cost of living increase would add another 2,000 for a grand total $76,000.

    If anyone in Seattle, especially West Seattle, thinks that this salary is excessive for a professional with 10 years experience and 6 years of post secondary education then then I don’t know what to say. We are talking gross income, before health insurance premiums, retirement and taxes are taken out. Personally, almost one-fourth of my monthly salary goes to the health insurance premium.

  • ForTheKids September 3, 2015 (9:00 am)

    Why do we have to get rid of pensions? Public employees contribute 10% of our pay to keep the system solvent, which it is. Should we also privatize social security so that the other portion of retirement savings (beside 401ks etc) is also subject to the whims of the market? One terrorist attack or market blip from the whole country shutting down. Respectfully, public employees in some ways are treated fairly well and maybe the private sector should try that. There’s the whole have to make record profits problem though.
    My sister in law is a teacher in special education with a master’s degree teaching at SPS. She has about 8 years of experience and is a true professional that puts in tons of effort. She makes less than $60,000 a year gross and pays $1800 a month for her apartment in seattle. Home ownership anywhere near work? Yeah right. I wouldn’t call her salary a lot considering she has a master’s degree which by the way she still has a student loan for

  • OP September 3, 2015 (6:21 pm)

    Educator: Thank you for the breakdown. That is fairly reasonable.

    Now I’m going to give you a piece of advice from a 24-year marketing/advertising specialist: Your side does a HORRIBLE job of communicating this point. If you want to win the hearts and minds of folks like me who are getting tired of seeing this potential as yet another money grab, then you better step up and start doing a better job telling your story. Get in your union reps ear and bend it until they do. You’ll win a lot more battles, believe me.

  • SP September 4, 2015 (11:03 pm)

    Why is the agreement being negotiated at the last hour? Now the teachers are risking student’s time as leverage to get their deal. I am all for better salaries for good teachers, getting rid of non-performing teachers and longer recess for students. But not for wasting valuable student time on strikes, administrative leaves, training days, meetings, furlow days, and on and on.

    • WSB September 5, 2015 (12:01 am)

      SP, they’ve been negotiating since May 20th, three months before the contract expired.

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