Sep 14, 2022 - News

Seattle teachers strike suspended after tentative deal reached

A group of people with signs and in red shirts stands on a sidewalk listening to someone speak.
Teachers take a break from picketing to get updates on contract negotiations Wednesday, Sept. 7, the first day of the Seattle teachers' strike. Photo: Melissa Santos/Axios

School will resume in Seattle on Wednesday after the local teachers union voted to suspend a strike that caused classes to be canceled for the first five days of the academic year.

Driving the news: On Tuesday, members of the Seattle Education Association voted to end the strike. But they have yet to approve a tentative agreement on a new labor contract.

Why it matters: Local teachers had been on strike since Sept. 7 — originally scheduled as the first day of school for tens of thousands of students.

Catch up quick: Seattle teachers' contract with the district expired Aug. 31. District officials and the union have been negotiating a new one.

  • Although school district officials announced a tentative agreement with the union's bargaining team on Monday night, the teachers union as a whole must vote to ratify the contract for it to be finalized.
  • That didn't happen Tuesday, but union members did vote to end the strike. They plan to vote on the new contract language later this week.

Background: Union members had been unhappy with the district's earlier proposals for wages and cost-of-living increases, as well as plans for multilingual and special education.

  • Teachers also argued that the district was trying to merge special education students and multilingual students into general education classrooms without guaranteeing that those students will have adequate support.

What they're saying: In a news release, the Seattle Education Association said the tentative agreement would ensure that special education staffing ratios are maintained and improved.

  • The details of the agreement won't be publicly available until union members and the school board approve the deal, the release said.
  • "We're excited to get back into our classrooms and buildings, knowing that our action means we'll have more of what our students and educators need to succeed," union president Jennifer Matter said in the release. 
  • In a message to parents, Seattle Public Schools officials said students will have to make up the five days of school they missed due to the strike. The schedule for those makeup days has yet to be decided.

The bottom line: The vote to approve the contract is pending, but parents can go to sleep Tuesday night knowing their kids will have school in the morning.

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