Snoqualmie Valley teachers prepare to strike with one day left of negotiations

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SNOQUALMIE VALLEY – Snoqualmie Valley teachers prepared to strike as negotiations continued in the district office late into Saturday night.

Unified teachers made posters and picket signs getting ready to strike on Monday if a deal is not made by Sunday.

“They need more time with their students,” said Snoqualmie Valley Education Association President Lisa Radmer.

The 11th hour bargaining between the union and the district is focused on elementary class sizes.

“Last year we had classes with 30 to 33 third graders and fifth graders, that is just too many,” said Radmer.

The district says hiring more teachers is not an option. Teachers with large class sizes instead could be offered more planning time or an additional $1,800 a year.

“Teachers have been fairly clear they don’t need more pocket money for more kids in their classroom,” said Radmer.

Some parents say they are backing the teachers all the way.

“Teachers are looking out for their best interest and want to make sure what is best for them,” said parent Shyanne Olsen.

Parent Dan Gelhaye also wants smaller class sizes but he doesn’t agree with a strike.

“It’s really disruptive to parents’ schedules and kids,” said Gelhaye.

He says the timing of negotiations should change for good.

snoqualmie“Have these contracts expire in the spring when the kids are getting out of school as opposed to the fall, I understand teachers use that as leverage but it’s not really fair to everyone involved,” said Gelhaye.

If there is no school on Monday Gelhaye says it will be hard to explain the situation to his 8 year-old after three days of school already getting to know new friends and teachers.

“Waiting and hoping,” said Gelhaye.

But teachers are promising to strike if there is no deal by 3 p.m. Sunday.

On Friday teachers packed away their classrooms and walked out with their belongings in case of a strike.  The two sides so far have come to the middle one one issue so far. The district has offered teachers a 6% pay increase over the next three years. The union says that they are not fighting those figures.

The negotiations started at noon Saturday and ended at 9 p.m. without an agreement. The two sides will be back at the bargaining table at 9 a.m. Sunday.

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  • SVSD response

    Teachers in Snoqualmie Valley ALWAYS try to get negotiations underway in spring rather than waiting until summer. It is the district that delays and uses it as a leverage point. For the past three negotiation cycles (9 years), Snoqualmie Valley teachers have settled for very unfair bargains because they did not want to strike. Public perception is understandable, but please get informed before going to the press saying "teachers use a late negotiation date so they have leverage and can strike". That is a tremendously unjust accusation and disrespectful.

  • Jack Webber

    Below is an open letter I have sent to all members of the Snoqualmie Valley School District School Board.
    Jack Webber-Teacher and Resident of Snoqualmie.

    Dear SVSD School Board member.

    Unfortunately it appears we are within hours of a strike.

    What is currently being done is not working and unless it is changed will continue not to work.

    I encourage you to step forward and change that. Please take the leadership necessary to move us beyond this impasse.

    Even though collaboration not conflict is your goal as well as ours, extreme conflict is where we are headed if you do not take action immediately.

    Any final settlement that will most likely eventually end a strike will in all likelihood be an agreement we could have today if you take the same action today. Teachers are going to have the same issue and the same stance regardless of how long the strike may take. Thus the final settlement will most likely be the same as it needs to be today.

    Please take the leadership actions necessary to prevent this "no return" event from happening. We have already given all we have. Only your actions can prevent a strike at this point. Unfortunately it appears that only extreme actions on our part can now create enough pressure to change the balance of priorities.

    You hired everyone at the table at the moment, we elected the teachers at the table, and paid for the WEA professional to help them find a solution.

    We both are in control of this outcome. We have already communicated with our negotiators in a 291-8 vote, not to settle unless class sizes are adequately dealt with. The current offer posted on the district website does NOT do that.

    We still stand solidly behind our negotiations team today as we did then. Not including special Ed in a count, having a single day yearly count, allowing for continually rising unlimited sizes throughout the year etc. all is no where near adequate. It is not about money, it is about bodies in the classroom.

    You are well aware of the teacher's request and we are well aware of your decisions to spend money on other priorities. You get us, we get you, the real question at the moment is Now What?

    No amount of posturing or public rhetoric on either side will change either position and a strike will only harden them and make a settlement further from reach.

    Please act now not later.

    May I share the following personal and professional perspectives:

    1. High school and middle school teachers are united to support elementary teachers in reducing class sizes and will strike as long as it takes to make that happen as it eventually affects each and everyone of us.

    2. Special Education and Two Rivers staff are united behind reducing elementary class size because the unintended long term effect often becomes a contributing factor to why they do not succeed in Middle and High School and end up on our door step instead.

    3. Teachers are prepared for an extended strike as negative as it will be for everyone and once it starts, it will take much more to settle it then than now.

    4. The money currently exists to solve the issue even though using it creates problems elsewhere. Class size needs to be the top priority to prevent a strike.

    Thank you for your service and I empathize with you being in this situation, please also understand we are feeling the same pressure, but are resolved as well.

    Looking forward to your immediate actions.


    Jack Webber