More local school districts faced teacher strikes this morning, including Tacoma and Puyallup. Although Seattle schools started on time, the Seattle Times reports that, with a contract vote scheduled for Saturday, some teachers are questioning the deal.
The district and its teachers union came to terms on a tentative deal late Friday, narrowly averting a walkout educators voted to authorize this past Tuesday. Still, at the start of another new school year, teachers wondered what their new one-year contract — which promised a 10.5 percent raise at the estimated cost of over $55 million — really meant for them…
Tom Nolet, a longtime teacher in the district, said, “10.5 percent seemed like a slap in the face after seeing what Shoreline got…
Others were more pleased with the one-year contract, citing progress and the opportunity to come back for more next year and seek increased state funding. The Times story concludes,
It’s unclear what union members will decide this weekend. Nolet has taught in the district for around three decades, and he said he can’t recall a time when the general membership has voted against ratifying a contract. But when one union represents 6,000 people from varying professions, socioeconomic conditions and opinions on education funding, one thing is guaranteed: there will be feverish debate at Benaroya Hall.
We’re not going to link to all the local stories. The WEA settlement and strike map at the top is the best ongoing status report we’ve found. You’ll notice more red (for strike) than we’ve seen before.
The features are common. Teachers see opportunity in the large funding increase provided this year; administrators worry about long-term sustainability. If the typical pattern is followed, the groups meet somewhere near the middle, ideally well before the first day of school. But the McCleary funding makes this year’s negotiations atypical.
The Supreme Court dealt a blow to public-sector unions earlier this summer when it ruled in the Janus case that government employees no longer have to pay fees to their unions.
But labor experts say the high level of teacher bargaining in Washington state right now may help unions avoid some of the negative impacts from that case.
Some union leaders in the Puget Sound area have said the Janus decision has been in the back of their minds at the bargaining table.
Read or listen to the story. It’s short and apt. Governing magazine also examines the effect of Janus on labor relations, mentioning last year’s teachers’ strikes in several states. The story discusses various member retention strategies unions may use in the wake of Janus, including this observation:
…unions don’t always need deep pockets to wield significant influence. Take the wave of recent teachers’ strikes in several conservative states that yielded pay raises for educators. Instead of buying costly TV airtime, unions might invest more on grassroots activities, such as in-person canvassing and phone banks. “Where unions have had the greatest political impact,” says Ken Jacobs of the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California, Berkeley, “has been in their ability to move their membership to vote and engage in public policy.”
The intensity of this year’s bargaining sessions may have, at least in part, been an extraordinary effort by the teachers’ unions to move its membership to engage in public policy.