Making huge strides forward for our students
Our students need more support than ever; together we made sure lawmakers knew about those needs. Now that the 2022 legislative session has closed, it’s clear that WEA member voices made a big difference. Because we are a strong and active union, we could work with lawmakers to pass needed policy changes and our state will now invest more in our schools and colleges.
The progress we achieved together as WEA members will make real differences in our students’ well-being and in our ability to provide high-quality teaching and supports. Because of our advocacy, our families will keep pace with inflation, our students will have access to more of the behavioral and mental health supports they need to learn, students and staff can celebrate Juneteenth, prospective students will have easier access to financial supports for higher education, and more students will have access to free lunch and broadband internet.
This was only possible because educators made our voices heard and because we’re standing together in WEA-PAC to support pro-education, pro-labor candidates. Now is a great time to sign up or increase your membership!
- COLAs: read more about how they work here!
- K-12 educators (including classified and certificated): 5.5%
- Community and technical colleges (I-732 COLAs): 4.7%
- 4-year college faculty: 3.25%
- Plan 1 retirees: 3% up to $110 per month
- Increased funding for school counselors, nurses, social workers, and psychologists. Read more here! See the new staffing funding formula here. (HB 1664)
- Stabilized funding for K-12 schools facing enrollment fluctuation - read more here!(HB 1590)
- Larger investment in making higher education more accessible with low interest student loans and more student outreach and supports - read more here! (HB 1835 and HB 1659)
- Improved public service loan forgiveness (SB 5847)
- Expanded student loan forgiveness for nurse educators (HB 2007)
- Increased language access services for school communication with families (HB 1153)
- Invested in school seismic and tsunami safety (SB 5933)
More details in the budget update post.
Lawmakers also passed WEA policy priorities including:
- Expanding access to free school meals (HB 1878)
- Making Juneteenth a school holiday (HB 1617)
- Expanding broadband access (HB 1723)
- Allowing retirees to work more hours without it impacting their retirement (HB 1699)
- Requiring that active shooter drills are trauma-informed and age-appropriate (HB 1941)
- Creating training for school districts on consulting Indigenous tribes (SB 5252)
- Updating higher ed faculty ethics rules (SB 5854)
- Expanding apprenticeships (SB 5600 and SB 5764)
- Supporting financial literacy education (SB 5720)
- Expanding visual and performing arts instruction (SB 5878)
Together in WEA, we won for students and their education
Other advocates saw how hard WEA members worked this session to make progress. The Washington Association of School Administrators noted, “After seeing the Senate’s IPD adjustment, WEA went on a full court press on their ask. They activated their members, who sent literally thousands of e-mails, texts, and phone calls in the remaining three weeks of session.”
Olympia blog The Morning Wire listed “teachers” first among the winners of this session saying, “Lawmakers earmarked $346 million in federal money for ‘enrollment stabilization,’ partially backfilling school budgets that would normally have been cut because of declining enrollment.”
Our unity is what made these wins possible, and every WEA member who joined WEA-PAC, emailed their lawmaker or spoke out, played a key part in making this happen during a short 60-day session.
- 58 WEA member educators testified in committees
- 140 educators attended WEA lobby days
- 67 educators and community members shared student mental and behavioral health stories with lawmakers
- WEA members sent more than 17,000 emails to lawmakers to share our experiences
- Join WEA-PAC! Our wins are only possible because we helped elect pro-labor, pro-education candidates who understand how important it is to support educators and our students.
- COLAs are calculated and added on to the staffing funding which the state provides to districts and colleges. Local unions need to include this COLA in their next bargain unless they have language that automatically captures state funded inflation increases. Read more about COLAs here.
- The work to balance our unfair tax code continues. While the capital gains tax continues to make its way through the courts, WEA members are organizing and educating coworkers to support a sustainable, fair tax code.