Teaching Profession

Strikes Hit Two Washington State Districts

By Nashiah Ahmad — September 18, 2002 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Teachers in two school districts in Washington state were on strike last week, with the prospect of more strikes to come in the state.

Since the start of the school year, teachers in at least a dozen districts across the country have walked out, demanding, in most cases, higher pay and increased health benefits.

Teachers in Washington state are particularly unhappy with their compensation, said Rich Wood, a spokesman for the Washington Education Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association.

“Teacher pay and benefits are not competitive with the private sector or with schools in other states,” he said, adding that the disparity exists “at a time when we have higher academic standards and expectations [in the state] than ever before.”

In the 8,200-student Snohomish and the 14,000-student Issaquah districts, strikes began on Sept. 4. Both districts have held a series of talks with little progress.

Teachers in at least three more districts including Bellevue, Puyallup, and Tacomaare working under the terms of expired contracts and are scheduled to take strike votes by the end of the month, Mr. Wood said.

At a recent negotiation meeting in Issaquah, the teachers’ union slightly reduced its demands, after seven months of bargaining, said Superintendent Janet Barry.

“Their demand is still so far above the district’s ability to pay that we’re not truly bargaining,” she said. “I see no signals that the union really intends to achieve a negotiated agreement that would settle this strike.”

The district planned last week to ask for an injunction in King County Superior Court against the teachers’ union.

The strikes were the first in memory for both Snohomish and Issaquah.

In addition to Washington state, Pennsylvania also had multiple strikes in small districts, including Perkiome Valley, Avington Heights, and North Schuylkill.

“It’s certainly more labor strikes than we’d like to see,” said Lynn Ohman, the director of collective bargaining and member advocacy at the National Education Association. “But I don’t believe this is indicative of any major labor strife. I think if the economy continues to make it difficult for state and local governments to collect revenue, we’d see an even more difficult situation in coming months.”

N.J. Strike Resolved

Teachers in the 3,300-student Princeton Regional School District in New Jersey staged a two-day strike on Sept. 4 and 5. Under a new agreement, they will receive salary increases of 4.5 percent, 4.7 percent, and 4.6 percent in each of the three years of the contract, said Karen Joseph, a New Jersey Education Association spokeswoman.

The teachers’ union, which had been negotiating with the district since January, walked out over salaries, health benefits, and extra pay for extra work, she said.

While teachers in the district earn an average of $58,376—just above the state average of $56,000—the 1998 per-capita income for surrounding Princeton Township, one of the communities the district serves, was $76,000, Ms. Joseph said. “The community clearly had the ability to pay,” she said.

Another point of contention was whether principals could assign teachers to playground duty, said Charlotte Bialek, the Princeton board president. Under state law, it is illegal for school boards to negotiate away that prerogative of principals, Ms. Bialek said, although the teachers’ union had sought such a change.

So, “in order to soften the blow from that one, we negotiated on pay,” she said.

In Delran, N.J., teachers at the 950-student Holy Cross High School last week staged their fifth strike in 24 years.

The sticking points were issues of internal management of classrooms, including the process of teacher evaluation and how students are added to classrooms, said Steven Emery, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Trenton, which runs the school.

Mr. Emery characterized the negotiation progress as “steady, but slow.”

Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning
Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How can districts build sustainable tutoring models before the money runs out?
District leaders, low on funds, must decide: broad support for all or deep interventions for few? Let's discuss maximizing tutoring resources.
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Teachers’ Careers Go Through Phases. They Need Support in Each
Teachers experience a dip in job satisfaction a few years into their careers.
5 min read
Vector illustration of a female teacher at her desk with her head in her hands. There are papers, stacked notebooks, and a pen on the desk and a very light photo of a blurred school hallway with bustling students walking by in the background.
iStock/Getty
Teaching Profession Download Downloadable: 5 Ways Principals Can Help With Teacher Burnout
This downloadable gives school leaders and teachers various ways to spot and treat teacher burnout.
1 min read
Silhouette of a woman with an icon of battery with low charge and icons such as a scribble line, dollar sign and lightning bolt floating around the blue background.
Canva
Teaching Profession Massages, Mammograms, and Dental Care: How One School Saves Teachers' Time
This Atlanta school offers unique onsite benefits to teachers to help them reduce stress.
3 min read
Employees learn more about health and wellness options during a mini benefits fair put on by The Lovett School in Atlanta on May 8, 2024.
Employees at the Lovett School in Atlanta meet with health benefits representatives during a mini benefits fair on May 8, 2024.
Erin Sintos for Education Week
Teaching Profession Opinion How Two Teachers Helped Me Weave a Dream
A journalist and debut book author dedicates her novel to two of her high school English teachers.
Anne Shaw Heinrich
3 min read
Image of nurturing the craft of writing.
Francis Sheehan for Education Week with N. Kurbatova / iStock / Getty