IUOE Local 302, the union representing about 600 Seattle Public Schools culinary workers, custodians, security workers, and groundkeepers, reached a tentative contract agreement with the school district this week after months of heated negotiations. The last contract for this group of workers — some of the lowest-paid employees in the district — ended August 31 with no new agreement in place.
On Wednesday, IUOE Local 302 District Representative Tony Frascone confirmed: “We reached a tentative agreement, and the bargaining team feels it is a substantial offer with a lot of gains for groups.”
Over the last weeks of summer, some workers readied for a potential strike. But, Frascone said the union had planned “job actions,” including informational picketing, this week if an agreement had not been reached, not a strike vote. Union members engaged in an informational picket outside the SPS board meeting on August 30 and were joined by members of the Seattle Education Association, which announced it’s full support of union efforts on its FaceBook page.
As of Wednesday, “All actions are canceled,” Frascone said.
A new contract means that students returning to Seattle Public Schools this week will have breakfast and lunch waiting for them, clean grounds and buildings around them, and security monitors and providers in place. Union members had argued that schools would be significantly disrupted without these services. SPS officials posted a statement on their website last week acknowledging the role these workers play in schools:
“We know how important these teams are for the success of our schools,” said SPS Chief of Staff Bev Redmond in a message to parents. Redmond posted another message after reaching the tentative agreement:
Dear SPS families and staff,
Seattle Public Schools (SPS) is pleased to announce that it has reached a tentative agreement with Local 302 International Union of Operating Engineers. The Local 302 represents SPS custodians, culinary services, grounds, security, and alarm monitor teams.
SPS appreciates all the hard work of both bargaining teams to reach a tentative agreement.
We are excited to have the members of Local 302 join us as we welcome our students, families, staff, and community partners for the 2023-24 school year tomorrow.
Bev Redmond, SPS Chief of Staff
A tentative agreement is not a final contract. The next step is for the union to take the proposal to workers.
“The membership at large will vote in the near future and confirm with a yes or no,” said Frascone.
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