Members of the Seattle Education Association, the union for Seattle Public Schools teachers, were on the picket lines Wednesday morning and say they will continue to walk every day from 7:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. until a contract agreement with the district is reached. Union members voted overwhelmingly on September 6 in support of a strike should they not come to agreement with the district on key contract negotiation issues.
District officials canceled classes September 7 — which was scheduled to be the first day of class — in expectation of a strike. A district announcement said schools would remain closed until further notice.
As Seattle teachers took up strike signs, members of the Kent Education Association stepped back from their picket line Wednesday morning.
Kent teachers went on strike August 25 after failing to reach an agreement with that district before Kent’s scheduled first day of class. According to a message on its Facebook page, the Kent teachers union “reached a tentative agreement in the wee hours of the morning.”
Kent School District’s Facebook page confirmed the tentative agreement, adding that the district and union have agreed to keep details of the tentative agreement confidential until union membership has ratified the contract. It would then go to Kent School District Board of Directors for formal approval.
But, said Kent district officials, “Based on the tentative agreement, the Kent School District intends to start school on Thursday, September 8, 2022.”
For more information on Kent Schools timeline go to the district’s website or Facebook page.
In Seattle, parents can find childcare resources, student meal locations, and additional information on the district website at www.seattleschools.org.
A Message to Parents on Labor Day
Seattle parents were forewarned of a possible strike. Many woke up to the following message on Labor Day morning sent from the district’s office of public affairs:
Dear SPS families and staff,
Today, Seattle Public Schools asked the Seattle Education Association (SEA), to consider an agreement called a memorandum of understanding (MOU). The MOU would have guaranteed an on-time start to school, while allowing negotiations to continue.
At this time, SEA has rejected the proposed MOU. Starting school on Wednesday is what is best for our students. We understand this uncertainty about a delay is difficult and unsettling for our students, staff, and families. We hope that SEA will reconsider this MOU and sign it before Tuesday.
SEA also declined requests to bring in a mediator to help us come to an agreement. We are committed to working with SEA to agree on a contract that best meets the needs of our students, staff, and schools.
If school is delayed, we are working on a plan to provide pick-up meals for students. We are also reaching out to community childcare providers to help support our families. We expect after-school athletics will continue, even if there is a delay in the start of school. We will publish details about student meals, childcare, additional resources in the event of a delayed start of school on our Family Resource and FAQ webpage.
We will let you know by Tuesday afternoon what the official status is for school the next day.
Not surprisingly, the 6,000-member teachers union fired back at the district on its website:
“It’s clear that our unity and action are moving the district to action – while our bargaining team is laser-focused on reaching a Tentative Agreement, the district’s team is getting distracted and putting their energy into things that take us away from conversations at the table at a time when they’re not making movement at the table.
The district proposed a Memorandum of Understanding where we would sign away our right to strike in exchange for raises (of an undetermined amount) to be retroactive to September 1, 2022.
This is upsetting because it shows how they don’t understand our democratic processes and it also shows how far away from what happens in our buildings the district really is. The MOU makes this just about money. Yes, respectful pay is on the table, but it’s also about the thousands of students whose needs went unmet last year and the thousands of educators who are burning out because of our unsustainable workloads. SPS didn’t show up to bargain Friday, they refused to bargain Saturday, and now they show they don’t understand how serious our students’ needs are.
We are united to advocate for our students and ourselves. It’s infuriating that the district would think we’d overlook our students’ needs.”
The teachers strike and delay of the start of class impacting approximately 49,500 students. Seattle School District is the state’s largest district with 62 elementary schools, 10 K-8 schools, 11 middle schools, and 17 high schools.
The school district will post school opening delay information and other updates on its website and social media accounts Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. It will notify parents by text, phone and email messages as well.
The district anticipates that after-school sports practices and games will continue as normal during a strike but middle school athletic events will be postponed until school goes into session.
For more information on what will happen in case of a strike go to the SPS Resources page.
While the union voted to authorize a strike in 2018, an agreement was reached that year and a strike avoided. The last Seattle teachers strike took place in 2015.
More at Seattle’s Child:
“Interpreters in Schools: Schools mandated to meet need”
‘Immersion learning in all K-8 schools in Washington by 2040?”