SEATTLE SCHOOL STRIKE: Officially over, with union members’ contract ratification

9:05 AM: After last night’s vote on the tentative agreement between the Seattle Education Association and Seattle Public Schools, the union has just announced that members ratified it, so the strike is officially over. “We are thrilled,” said union vice president Uti Hawkins. After five days on the picket line, teachers voted last week to suspend the strike after the agreement was reached, but it wasn’t finalized until this vote. The union says two-thirds of its 6,000-person membership voted. The agreement actually involved three contracts; the certificated (teachers) contract was ratified with 71 percent approval. “We won a lot,” says union president Jennifer Matter, while saying the fight is now for better state education funding, especially getting the state to lift caps on special-education funding. More details to come.

9:45 AM: Other notes from the SEA media briefing just held online: The other ratification percentages were 82 percent for SAEOPS (office professionals), 66 percent for paraprofessionals. SEA hasn’t sent a contract document or highlights yet, but here’s the document SPS released with key points from the three-year deal. We asked what the union leaders considered the biggest wins. Hawkins said it was increased school-library funding, following “a 10-year battle.” Matter added that special-education caseload relief was another major win – currently if more students are added to the caseload, there’s a three-month wait for the district to address it, and now that will be reduced to two weeks. The union’s Center for Racial Equity director Joaquin Rodriguez added one more, improvements in paraprofessionals’ access to technology.

25 Replies to "SEATTLE SCHOOL STRIKE: Officially over, with union members' contract ratification"

  • Scarlett September 20, 2022 (10:31 am)

    “We won a lot.”   Pretty much sums up the “ethos” that motivates the SEA.  

    • Anne September 20, 2022 (11:49 am)

      Did you read the part about increased school library funding (10 year battle)  Special Ed  caseload relief-reducing  3 month wait to 2 weeks????Not just about salaries.

    • JJ September 20, 2022 (11:52 am)

      Yes, standing up for educators.

      • Scarlett September 20, 2022 (12:15 pm)

        Good for you.  I’ll be standing up for what I think is right.  

        • WestSeattleBadTakes September 20, 2022 (1:30 pm)

          Too bad you’re wrong.

        • Neighbor September 20, 2022 (2:15 pm)

          What is that?

        • JM September 20, 2022 (2:34 pm)

          Good for you……what would that be exactly?  If you want to stand for what’s right let us know what that is and how this contract is not. Or do you just like to make generic negative comments without any valid points. I suppose that’s your “ethos”!

    • Brian September 20, 2022 (3:07 pm)

      Congratulations, you’ve sleuthed out the seedy ulterior motive of labor unions: securing employment conditions, benefits and compensation for their voting and dues paying membership. Columbo better watch out. 

      • Jethro Marx September 20, 2022 (8:02 pm)

        I’m not sure if you’re intentionally misunderstanding Scarlett’s argument or just avoiding it; if we have educators and administration/the district working together to get our kids’ schools to be places of learning, it does not suit us to have them view each other as adversaries. I think teacher salaries should be way higher, competitive with other positions that require intense knowledge of a subject. I think the district staff is larger than necessary and inefficient. But to pretend one side or the other is entering these negotiations with the wholesome and earnest ethos you describe is weird. It’s a battle and both sides are in on that. A battle is not the best way to collaborate as you educate our kids.

        • teacher September 20, 2022 (9:41 pm)

          I wholeheartedly agree Jethro. Unfortunately this district does not see the frontline educators as partners and it is difficult to change that culture when downtown district admin rarely interface with the frontline educators. There are a lot of middlemen in this district.

        • Ben September 21, 2022 (6:57 am)

          It’s news to me that they had an argument. As for the battle, I think it’s very important for kids to understand the adversarial component that is inherent to almost all employer/ employee relationships, and the efficacy of collective bargaining, regardless of what you think of ‘ethos’ and motives.It’s my experience that most people upset on behalf of the children are actually just outraged by the price of child care, which is a datapoint that would support the economic argument behind striking, if such an argument were made.

          • Jethro Marx September 21, 2022 (8:49 am)

            Well as I understand their comment, Scarlett was suggesting that “We won a lot.” showed that the negotiations were focused on winning stuff for teachers from a district that is viewed as the enemy, rather than focusing on how to deliver quality education. If you don’t understand using the word ‘argument’ to encapsulate that let’s call it a claim instead.

            It sounds like you support teaching kids that if they have an employer they ought to view them as an adversary to be fought and defeated- that’s another opinion.  Probably not one shared by many actual parents.  If you think I’m outraged about daycare prices you’re not paying attention or are just moving on to a tired and unconnected trope.  I know there is a common refrain when teachers strike of “You parents don’t care about educators and just want free daycare, blablabla…” but that’s a dumb claim.  Calling public school daycare is kind of a slight to educators, but also misses the point.  Teachers strike when the impact will be the greatest, and that makes a bunch of parents have to scramble to deal with it. It can be inconvenient but that’s life. If you don’t think we should depend on school to care for and educate our children during the day then what are schools and teachers there for? 

            I am disappointed when I hear that my elementary kid is watching three Disney movies a week at school and that whole periods for my high-schooler are used for the teacher to do Tarot readings, but it takes even more than that to outrage me.  We’re going to need to stop pretending that every teacher is a capable and dedicated educator if we hope to ever improve public schools for both the teachers and the kids.

    • teacher September 20, 2022 (4:40 pm)

      Anne is right. Those two things were huge, however, most educators were really disappointed with the caseload ratios in SpEd. The district wanted to get rid of caseload ratios completely and so instead of asking for lower ratios of students to teachers, our union held the line so they were at least kept as is. There will be a separate bargain for a “caseload calculator” and a plan to move to full inclusion. Teachers would LOVE for parents and community to help us let the district know that more SpEd support staff is needed to make full inclusion work for our students’ needs.

  • DC September 20, 2022 (3:47 pm)

    If I’m reading the media highlights correctly, that an extra $200 million tax payer dollars towards the agreement. I wonder where that additional money comes from. What services are we trading for that? 

    • AMC September 20, 2022 (4:40 pm)

      From the $39M rainy day fund the district has been hoarding is one possibility. Also wondering what happened to federal pandemic relief dollars that I never saw our school receiving…

      • wsparent September 20, 2022 (9:42 pm)

        Were school lunches paid for with that? And also the covid room workers?

        • AMC September 20, 2022 (11:35 pm)

          Universal school lunches was a different program. In our school the COVID room person was also a recess monitor and only got paid minimum wage.

    • wsteacher September 20, 2022 (4:44 pm)

      The district had at least 160 million in their “rainy day fund”. If they cut back on superintendent, assistant superintendent and other district office admin salaries and positions it would help make up any deficit. They are top-heavy.

  • SLJ September 20, 2022 (3:49 pm)

    Any updates on when we make up the 5 days?

    • AMC September 20, 2022 (4:41 pm)

      That’s usually negotiated separately after the contract is ratified.

  • TJ September 20, 2022 (5:53 pm)

    Although an agreement is reached, these same issues of class size ratios and teacher pay will still be issues for teachers and others on these comments. “They are overworked and underpaid” will still be the rallying cry, from now up until the next time. Like this strike never happened or meant anything. Actual satisfaction for the SEA is a mirage. See it but never get to it

  • Mj September 20, 2022 (6:27 pm)

    AMC – raiding the rainy day fund when its not raining is short sighted.

    • AMC September 20, 2022 (8:15 pm)

      After 2+ years of a pandemic the highest need of students seen in many years is NOW. If now is not a good time to dip into those funds then when is??

  • Wseattleite September 20, 2022 (9:00 pm)

    Were new parameters put into place to guarantee that future negotiations will not impact the students and teachers as they plan to go back to school?

  • Mj September 20, 2022 (9:59 pm)

    I still remember the 2009/2010 severe recession that had significant impact to tax receipts.  That is a rainy day. 

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