SEATTLE SCHOOL STRIKE: No school Thursday. But will there be negotiations? What district told media; what union told 34th District Democrats

No classes for Seattle Public Schools again tomorrow, as reported in our all-day coverage of the first day of the Seattle Education Association‘s strike against SPS. In the past six hours, we’ve heard from representatives of both sides, and we recorded each one.

First – a 3 pm media briefing at SPS headquarters in SODO, during which district spokesperson Stacy Howard said “all indications” were that talks would resume tomorrow:

We mentioned a few other points toward the end of our morning/afternoon coverage. Howard was joined by two members of the district bargaining team, Jon Halfaker and Keven Wynkoop.

Second – near the start of the 7 pm 34th District Democrats meeting at the Hall at Fauntleroy, the union’s lead bargainer Phyllis Campano said the union was going to meet with mediators at 10 am tomorrow but had not heard from the district regarding resuming talks:

As you can hear in the clip, Campano also offered some backstory to how negotiations had played out pre-strike, saying the union told the district it wanted to be done by August 24th. She said this is her fourth turn as a negotiator and this is the “slowest” process in which she’s ever been involved. She characterized the district’s 5 pm Tuesday proposal as “pretty much the same proposal they had put on the table at 1 o’clock on the morning,” and that, she said, is why they decided to end talks for the day and declare the strike was on. But, she said, “All 40 members of our bargaining team are eager to get back and get this solved.”

We later asked district spokesperson Howard about the seeming discrepancy, via e-mail. Her response: “Our bargaining team members told me they were asked to report here in the morning. … But this goes with the pattern we explained earlier…we are there, have been around the clock available and the union on numerous occasions have either not showed, or walked out. So that’s why we said today that all indicators show talks should resume tomorrow. Because it wouldn’t be the first time they’ve refused to talk.” The union, meantime, has contended that the district was a no-show on multiple occasions along the way. We’ll see what happens tomorrow; the union says picketing will resume at all schools at 8:30 am (with an early round at Louisa Boren STEM K-8 in Delridge during morning-newscast hours).

SIDE NOTE #1: Later in the 34th DDs meeting, the group unanimously approved a resolution supporting the union (we’ll add a copy here when we get it), and a $500 contribution to the teachers’ strike fund.

SIDE NOTE #2: Some parents have wondered how the strike will affect the school-year calendar. The district has an extensive strike-related FAQ up here, and it ends with a section about “calendar concerns.”

32 Replies to "SEATTLE SCHOOL STRIKE: No school Thursday. But will there be negotiations? What district told media; what union told 34th District Democrats"

  • mickey mouse September 9, 2015 (10:17 pm)

    I am a nurse and state employee, have not had a raise in years,,,,,,,the teacher requests are over the top…get a grip and teach!!!!!!

  • Mike September 9, 2015 (10:30 pm)

    What type of suggestions would people have to prevent these strikes and the lack of agreements prior to school years starting? Maybe we need to pressure our government leaders to enact laws that add jail and fines to those involved in the negotiations? $5,000 per day per person? Up to 1 year in jail for not showing to negotiations?
    I’m not talking about the teachers, I’m talking about the union reps and district heads involved in negotiations. These are the people that are holding our children hostage. Why is it the highest paid people on both sides are the ones failing at their jobs? Will teachers stand up against their union and sue to get their union dues paid back as the union is failing to represent them in good faith?
    I think it’s time to stop striking after the school year has started and start looking to better solutions to prevent this. It’s time for these ‘leaders’ to grow up and do their job so our teachers can get to work and provide the best education possible for our kids.

  • WSTeacher September 9, 2015 (11:03 pm)

    Thank WSB for your coverage of this story. You are doing a superior job over the news channels at providing updates. I left Seattle Public Schools because of a lack of support for special ed teachers from the building level through to the district level. What the district is doing is shameful, I stand with the teachers.

  • Ray September 9, 2015 (11:12 pm)

    I look forward to both sides making a good faith effort over the next day or so to address their respective issues and end this illegal strike.

  • frustrating September 9, 2015 (11:20 pm)

    I came to work in this district because my husband works in the city and we live in Seattle. I have never had to deal with so much BS from a district office since I have been employed here. I believe what my union reps have told me about the district reps not showing up to negotiation meetings because I have experienced similar ineptitude from district reps in other instances.
    Over the years I have worked here, there have been several occasions that I have complained to district employees that work in the John Stanford Center building about how disjointed the district is from the schools and teachers. If commuting did not take out so much of my day, and my children did not go to their fabulous neighborhood school in West Seattle, I would move to another district to work. Our school community (neighborhood of West Seattle and awesome families and kids) is what keeps me fighting for what is best for kids and my own working conditions in this district. I know a strike is not what is best for kids when we all (teachers, kids, and kids’ parents) want school to be in session. But, seriously, I am fed up. What else can I do to change the way things are? I really hope this is resolved soon, but I am willing to sacrifice to show this district that some changes need to be made, especially when they keep trying to pit the teachers against families. That helps no one.

  • Lynn September 9, 2015 (11:34 pm)

    What are you talking about? There’s no reason to assume that the teachers aren’t happy with their representation. (Things that inconvenience you are not inherently bad.)
    If you don’t want this to happen again (and want this strike to end soon) write to the school board and tell them that. Tell them too that you’re not impressed with the work of the only staff member they hire – the superintendent. His job is to keep the district running.

  • teacher mom September 9, 2015 (11:48 pm)

    Don’t believe everything you read. It’s nearly impossible to make statements and interpret statistics without twisting them toward you own personal ideals. I’m sorry that the nurses unions have failed you. Maybe our struggle can help you in some way in the future.

  • DP September 10, 2015 (6:37 am)

    @Ray – please provide a link to support your claim that this strike is illegal. Your claim has been covered exhaustively, and while there is no law explicitly stating it is legal, there is also no law stating it is illegal.
    I assumed this was an already common knowledge.

  • WSMama September 10, 2015 (7:08 am)

    We support the Teachers!
    Thanks WSB for your continued great coverage!

  • school parent September 10, 2015 (7:56 am)

    I’ve heard it said that teachers are being over the top and greedy. Pay is only one of the many issues here, there are so many other issues here that they’re striking for that have nothing to do with money, only the wellbeing of their students. The biggest issue to me is that the school district only wanted to guarantee 15 minutes of recess. That’s absolutely insane! The union was asking for at least 45 minutes of recess and dropped that to 30 minutes (which, in my opinion, is still too low). There are countless numbers of studies that show how much physical activity kids need and lack of physical activity is linked to hyperactivity, bullying, bad grades, obesity, etc. If the district would drop some of their stupid tests, they would have more time to address education of the student as a whole.
    And to the nurse who hasn’t gotten a raise in years, if your job started mandating that you work more hours for the same amount of pay, I’m pretty sure you’d take issue with that as well.

  • DP September 10, 2015 (8:15 am)

    For anyone who wants to actually educate themselves on the legality of teacher strikes.

  • CC EM September 10, 2015 (8:43 am)

    I just read that Nyland makes 308k a year and is a known union buster. F the guy! Support the teachers!

  • Eric September 10, 2015 (8:53 am)

    Mickey Mouse, if you have not had a raise in years, maybe it’s time to form a union and negotiate for one?

    The teachers have been trying to negotiate since early summer; if the district had approached this issue with the same urgency then, perhaps we’d have a resolution by now. But teachers can only strike when school is in session to have an impact – and striking at the start of the year actually causes the least disruption – imagine going on strike a week before high school students take AP or IB tests! Striking at the start of the school year prevents having a disruption in the middle of the year.

    I’d love to see a reliable poll of parents with kids in SPS – I would bet a good chunk of money that 75% or more support the teachers!

  • Union guy September 10, 2015 (8:59 am)

    @Mikey mouse

    Maybe instead of leading the charge in the race to the bottom the nurses could learn something and follow suit. What is more American than a democratic institution with elected officials fighting for their rights and what they believe in? If there wasn’t a teachers union to fight for, say, even pay what kind of schools would we have if subject only to poor budgeting, etc. If you guys are getting screwed stand up like the teachers and change your situation!!

  • Rick September 10, 2015 (9:04 am)

    teacher mom, I think Mark Twain said it well. “Facts are stubborn things but statistics are more pliable”. There are other quotes along these lines but this one sums it up pretty well.

  • Lez September 10, 2015 (9:35 am)

    Hang in there District! I’m for the children and the taxpayers who will have to pay for these over the top demands.Like every union in this town they think they have a right to their demands. The district is not a for-profit company. The children and taxpayers have no representative in this

  • cwit September 10, 2015 (10:08 am)

    I looked up the salaries for the 2 members of the bargaining team in the picture above, at the link that wseaparent put up on another thread to show how much teachers make ( Bravo for them on their 6-figure salaries for doing whatever it is they do at the not-for-profit school district. I can certainly see why they don’t go on strike.
    I do, however, know what the teachers that have taught and continue to teach my child do. Just looking at my child’s most recent teacher from last year, she gets paid approx. 40% of what the lowest paid member of the bargaining team gets paid. Sure, this is only looking at a specific case, but experiencing how much time, effort, and most importantly, care she put into teaching her class, it’s hard not to support the teachers in what they’re doing.

  • Alan September 10, 2015 (10:13 am)

    @Lez – “The children and taxpayers have no representative in this”? Really? First of all, the taxpayers have the school board as their elected representatives and they provide direction. The school board also advocates for the children. In addition, the teachers are also advocates for the children and much of what they are fighting for is intended to be in their interest. Just because the school board/district doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the teachers on things like recess, doesn’t mean that they aren’t both intending the best for the students.

    If your contract at work expired, would you accept whatever new contract your employer offered? No.

    I wonder how many people that are saying “just go do your job” take the same view when it involves keeping an athlete on one of our teams. I would bet that it then switches to “you need to pay them what it takes to keep them.”

  • Standing with teachers September 10, 2015 (10:33 am)

    Here’s how to give the teachers the raises they deserve: take the money that was going to be given to the unconstitutional charter schools and give it to the teachers. Also, cut every District administrator’s wages by 25%, and get rid of a third of them.

    Why does the District never offer to cut costs in their own building? I’d love to know how many people who work at the John Stanford Center make over $100k – I bet it’s a lot. And all they seem to do is impose more and more onerous restrictions on teachers. Make them take a pay cut, and give teachers the raises they deserve.

  • SBT September 10, 2015 (10:54 am)

    new teachers make gross $32,000 a yr in my district.
    after taxes they’re to $21,000 to live on for the yr.
    that’s about $1750 a month.

    Go ahead and add up you own monthly expenses and contrast them with this persons available $.

    Her student loan will be about $250 a month these days by the way.

    She will be in this financial “dead zone” for about 7 to 9 yrs before she hits $40k/yr on the pay scale
    So about the yr 2022ish.

    Although contracted for set hrs, everyone knows teachers put it in. AND, some have 28 or more new kids every hr for 6 hrs a day. No, you can’t go to the restroom or get coffee. The other hour is our prep so when no kids are here we are suppose to work frantically to accomplish a long list of requirements. My point is that basically every minute of every day there are bodies in front of us that need.
    I started a yr with 183 kids in math one yr.

    We work extra hrs and weekends because there is literally no time in regular hrs to do what’s required or needed.

    If you think that sounds easy, I welcome you to try it.
    Great comment by a teacher on web-“It’s about the second week of Summer vacation that parents realize teachers are underpaid.”

    Babysitter commenters-yeah-a baby sitter makes $5 to $10 an hr per kid.

    A teachers wage is about $1.45 per child and I have to teach them geometry, not just get’ed a sammy and take a nap.

    Bottom line-if you think you’re being ripped off of your tax dollars over teacher pay, you should think agin.

  • CanDo September 10, 2015 (10:58 am)

    So… the union says the district was often a no-show during summer negotiations which dragged the process out and the district says the union was often a no-show. One of these entities must be lying to further their own agenda. How do we find out what really happened this summer?

  • Union guy September 10, 2015 (12:00 pm)


    Good point when it comes to sports. And on that topic and use of taxpayer money did you guys know king county just paid off the kingdome this year!!!??? Good thing we’ve been paying on that instead of investing in the education of our next generation……..

  • Earnest WS Native September 10, 2015 (12:11 pm)

    Amen, CanDO. This is a perfect example of here-say, specifically weighted to incite. Personally, I noticed the SEA side spoke about this loudly and early-on as a chief reason bargaining started later (as if we had a gauge as to when timely bargaining should be). Your post is the first time I have seen evidence of a response or comment from the SPS side on this issue. Can you share a link where you read or heard them state that SEA was often a no-show? Sadly, to find out what really happened probably involves a records request for email records—not likely.

    • WSB September 10, 2015 (12:14 pm)

      Earnest – that is in our story above, third-to-last paragraph. Quoted from my e-mail exchange with SPS spokesperson last night. – Tracy

  • CanDo September 10, 2015 (12:24 pm)

    Yep…. read it in the above story posted by the WS Blog.

    • WSB September 10, 2015 (12:31 pm)

      We have since published our first take on today’s developments – atop the home page. The district says its bargainers were “waiting” at last report. I’m pinging the union next.

  • Seattle resident September 10, 2015 (12:37 pm)

    I do not support the teachers.

    The union and teachers are holding the kids education hostage. I think the teachers are compensated appropriately. You can look up their salaries and the average seems competitive. Teachers get a lot of time off. They have holidays off, get to be home for dinners with families, weekends off to spend with family, benefits, and don’t work a full work day or year. Seriously??? This is ridiculous! The teachers choose this career hopefully because they love it and the selling points I mentioned earlier. They knew when they chose this career the pay rate. GO TO WORK TEACHERS and do your job!!

  • DP September 10, 2015 (12:39 pm)

    People assuming teachers aren’t tax payers are either ignorant, or just trying to divide working-class individuals…or both.

  • Earnest WS Native September 10, 2015 (12:40 pm)

    Heh, got it! Thanks @WSB and @CanDo.

  • westseattledood September 10, 2015 (1:12 pm)

    One would think that as often as I read the comments on WSB, I would become inured to the displays of ignorance and bitterness which certain WSB comment writers consistently reveal about themselves.

    I believe anybody who does not support this strike is probably a former student who performed poorly and has very bitter, unresolved feelings about teachers and, to really drive home the point, probably parents who failed them as well.

    The consequence of their lack of development are these comments which indicate either low IQ, lack of critical thinking tools, lack of compassion, lack of self-awareness and self-understanding. They are wounded and they are victims, but they are adults who have had choices to repair their lack.

    Which brings me back to the core issue – the importance of quality education. We need highly capable teachers in Seattle and in this state and country. And we are losing the best and the brightest to technology industries. Know this.Those who are valiant and remain in teaching in this city can barely keep their heads above water for the stagnant wages. Every profession deserves to be treated with respect. This time, now, it is teachers. As a tax payer, I support public education, though it is woefully underfunded, there are few things as important as educating a child. These comments on WSB might be some of the best evidence of a lack of good education.

    Whether we have children or not, are tax-payers or not, education matters more than anything for a good and decent society.

    So, as frustrating as the bitter comments are and as challenging as it will be to resist venting against the comments uninformed opinions which follow from that, try to ignore them. I will not respond directly to any of them. They are not worthy until they communicate actual critical thought. And they won’t. Because they cannot.

  • Lez September 10, 2015 (10:03 pm)

    Hey Cwit-Nice to compare teachers salaries to District negotiaters. How much do the union reps make? Chicken feed? Doubt it. Yeah you’ll say teacher’s union dues. Where do they get that money from? The tax payer. We pay the salaries are extracted. As far as the District representing the taxpayer ok. Do the Union reps? No. We pay them indirectly to extract their salaries. Idoubt you’ll be providing a link as to what they are. Hang in there district.

  • Teacher September 12, 2015 (1:40 am)

    @lez most (my recollection is 44 of 48 team members representing all different member groups and regions of the city) of the union negotiators are certificated teachers who are volunteering their time with the exception of the union officers. No compensation. Union officers (not ‘reps’, as that is the term used to refer to teacher volunteer representatives within buildings) earn most of their salary from from union dues paid voluntarily by members.
    To say you pay them indirectly is disingenuous. What evidence do you have that teachers don’t work a full day?

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