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Nearly 6,000 teachers on strike in Washington school districts

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Longview EA strike rally members march
Longview Education Association members were the first to go on strike -- and they're still standing united for a fair contract.

Nearly 6,000 Washington Education Association members are on strike in nine Western Washington school districts where superintendents and school boards refuse to negotiate competitive pay raises for teachers and other school employees.

Teachers in these districts are on strike:

  • Puyallup
  • Tukwila
  • Evergreen
  • Washougal
  • Battle Ground
  • Longview
  • Centralia
  • Tumwater
  • Stanwood-Camano

Teachers in the Rainier School District were on strike Sept. 4, but reached a tentative agreement.

Tacoma Education Association members voted Sept. 4 to strike beginning Sept. 6, the first scheduled day of school.

Vancouver teachers, who had been on strike for the first time ever, met the morning of Sept 4 and approved a new contract that provides a significant pay raise.

The number of school strikes in Washington is unprecedented.

Stanwood strike rally
WEA members in Stanwood-Camano are on strike over competitive pay.

Equally unprecedented are the large salary increases WEA locals have negotiated in school districts across Washington, many in the double-digit percentages. Educators in many districts are seeing the largest pay raises they’ve ever received.

When contract negotiations began earlier this year, WEA members in every community had the same goal: Competitive, professional pay to attract and keep qualified, caring school employees for their students.

Because of the Washington Supreme Court’s historic McCleary school funding decision, the Legislature increased funding for K-12 public schools by billions of dollars. Legislators allocated an additional $2 billion for educator salaries this school year. School districts are receiving a net increase in funding this year and into the future compared to the 2017-18 school year.

The increase in funding comes after years of hard work by WEA members in the Legislature, in the courts and at the ballot box.

Educator pay has lagged behind the cost of living for years as the state failed to properly fund education. Now that Washington has increased school funding, it is time for districts to provide the significant pay raises needed to ensure our students have committed, qualified teachers on the job.

In districts where teachers are on strike, superintendents and school boards refuse to negotiate the competitive pay raises their teachers need and deserve, even though their districts have the money to do so. Administrators in those districts are stockpiling money in large surplus accounts, diverting funding to other programs and/or falsely claiming their districts face budget deficits.

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