Seattle teachers' strike halted after tentative contract reached with district
Next steps: School resumes for all students, including preschool and kindergarten, Wednesday, Sept. 14; teachers to vote on the tentative agreement in coming days.
Seattle educators voted narrowly Tuesday afternoon to suspend a strike that has delayed the start of school by a week. School resumes for all students on Wednesday.
Although school can start first, union members still need to vote on to ratify the tentative agreement reached with the district late Monday evening. In an all-day general membership online meeting on Tuesday, some educators objected to halting the strike, saying they have only received a summary of the agreement from union leaders. Seattle Education Association President Jennifer Matter said the agreement needs to be edited and proofread before being distributed to members. Ultimately, 57 percent voted to suspend the strike, with 78 percent turnout.
The union said it would not release the tentative agreement to the public until members have voted, but has said that the proposed three-year contract maintains or improves the same special education student/teacher ratios, adds mental health staffing to every school, and boosts staff pay. Some union members said the district didn’t give nearly enough of what the union membership was seeking, including pay raises that keep up with inflation, enough mental health supports, or the level of additional staffing they say is needed for special education and English learners.
The district largely backed off its proposal to move some special education students out of segregated classrooms and into more mainstream classes, which it said was critical to comply with federal disability law. The union had questioned the district’s willingness to adequately train, hire and place staff for those “inclusion” classrooms.
Neither district nor union leaders have yet granted interview requests, but the teachers union president called the agreement “huge,” and the district released a statement after the tentative agreement was reached calling the proposed contract “an incredible effort by the (Seattle Public Schools) and (Seattle Education Association) bargaining teams,” and thanked both teams for their hard work.
However, because the contract has yet to be ratified, the union retains the right to go back on strike if its members ultimately reject the agreement on in a final vote.