Seattle teachers vote to strike if no tentative contract agreement by Wednesday

SEATTLE – Teachers in Seattle voted Tuesday night to authorize a strike unless an agreement is reached with the state's largest district by the time school resumes Sept. 5.

Teachers in Longview, Evergreen and Washougal are already on strike and Camas and Sultan educators voted Monday night to authorize strikes if an agreement isn't met by the time school begins next week.

Teachers in the state's largest school district, Seattle, voted Tuesday night on a strike authorization just three years after their last one. Those teachers were on strike for five days in 2015, and received pay increases of 9.5 percent over three years. Now, three years later, would they consider striking again?

“I think anything is possible,” said Phyllis Campano, president of the Seattle Education Association (SEA).

“There are three other districts that are on strike, we understand there are two more possibly going today and then there are 180 other districts still negotiating. So this is really a statewide issue,” she said.

But the SEA says this year negotiations have stalled on teacher’s pay.

“We know there is money to build competitive salaries to keep educators here,” said Campano.

It may seem like déjà vu because Seattle teachers did strike back in 2015.

This time around, even after the Legislature ponied up more money for teacher salaries statewide, union leaders in Seattle claim the high cost of living means attracting and retaining new teachers in the state’s largest district has become more difficult.

And while negotiations could stall and lead to a strike – the Seattle Education Association believes lawmakers may have to pony up even more cash for teachers to keep this from happening again.

“I think maybe in November we need to go back to the drawing board at the Legislature so this doesn’t happen again."

Q13 News also talked to parents, including one mom of three who says she supports the teacher’s cause, but she also understands the panic working parents can feel when it comes to child care during a possible strike.

“We support the teachers, we believe they do need to have a worthy wage, a wage that is growing with the needs of the cost of living in Seattle.  I have a neighbor who’s a single mom and we are really close.  I told her if you need your kids to come over for a couple days, I can do that.  What’s more valuable than your kids and their education? And it’s fine and dandy to have some extra days off, but yeah, I think it’s a big stress on parents. So I understand that side as well, but as my neighbor who is in need at this time says, it takes a village,” says Sarah Artemiev.

Other large districts across the state like Lake Washington, Highline and Bellevue already negotiated teacher pay. Schools there are expected to open on time as scheduled.