The first day of school in Washington state’s largest public school district was postponed after a union representing thousands of teachers and other school professionals voted to strike.
The Washington Education Association, which represents about 6,000 Seattle Public Schools employees, plans to go on strike at 7:30 am on Wednesday, the same day schools in the district begin. 50,000 students.
WEA said it would work with school districts to reach a contractual agreement to “get us back in the classroom as quickly as possible.”
“Educators want to be in the classroom with their students and need SPS to give them the support and adult attention they deserve,” WEA said in a statement.
“Seattle Public Schools respects its educators and staff. message to parents Tuesday. “Negotiations with the SEA are ongoing. We look forward to welcoming our students and staff to the school for the 2022-23 school year.”
The union said its negotiating priorities included additional support for special and multilingual education programs, control over workload and class sizes to prevent educator burnout, and livelihoods in communities served by staff. It said it would include better wages to help.
“93% of us work more than our allotted or contracted hours, and 25% work 10 or more extra hours per week,” said SEA. wrote on the website“If our work requires work outside contract hours, such as a mandatory committee meeting, SPS must allow it by either removing other tasks or recognizing it with additional payment. I have to.”
The strike comes amid similar actions in other school districts across the United States, including nearby schools. Kent School Districtin the suburbs of Seattle.
Kent Educational Society went on strike At the end of last month, we delayed the start of the school year again. School had not yet started as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the school district. website.
Also last month Teachers and Staff in Columbus, Ohio, went on strike and were forced to hold classes online until a resolution was reached.
In March Minneapolis Public Schools went on strike, but the deadlock was resolved after 21 days of uninterrupted negotiations.
In Seattle, SEA President Jennifer Matter said members of the group voted overwhelmingly in favor of the strike.
“We made a very difficult decision. Trust me, that decision was not taken lightly as to whether or not to allow the strike,” Matter said. “Because nobody wants to attack. Because you can’t go back to the old ways.”
Following the union vote, SPS said in a statement that it was “committed to negotiating new contracts with our educators.”
“The SEA has agreed to meet with a mediator on Monday to help guide our conversation,” district assistant public relations officer Beverly Redmond said in a statement.
In notifying families that schools will be closed on Wednesday, the school district noted that dining areas are open during the day and that child care resources are being worked on.