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WEA members successfully organizing for pay raises across the state

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Mukilteo bargaining rally
WEA members in Mukilteo rallied for fair pay this week, garnering TV coverage.

Nearly 20 WEA locals have negotiated double-digit percentage pay raises, ranging from 12 percent to 34 percent in big districts, little districts, rural communities and urban areas. From Bellevue to Mossyrock to Othello, WEA members are successfully bargaining the pay raises we all need and deserve no matter where we live and work. (Here's the settlement map.)

In the latest settlement this week, the South Kitsap Education Association negotiated a tentative agreement that calls for an average pay raise of around 20 percent.

Kennewick bargaining rally
Kennewick EA members are fighting for professional pay.

Let’s build on that momentum. While 30 contracts have been settled, there are 220 that are still being negotiated. Public awareness is building. WEA members in Central Valley, Mukilteo and the Tri-Cities rallied earlier this week and garnered media attention and public support.

“Washington has a tremendous teacher shortage,” said Dana Wiebe, Mukilteo Education Association president. “If we don’t pay Mukilteo teachers more competitive salaries, they will leave our schools for other districts or even other professions. We think Mukilteo students deserve great teachers, and that requires competitive pay. The school district has the money.”

Mukilteo, like other districts, is receiving a net increase of millions of dollars in coming years because of the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, which ordered the state to increase K-12 funding. At least $2 billion of the new funding is for educator salaries.

Here’s what’s at stake: If we want to attract and keep caring, qualified teachers and support staff for our students, we must provide them with competitive, professional compensation.

In some school districts, including Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia, administrators are forecasting doom and gloom and saying their districts are facing budget deficits. Which doesn’t make sense, since every district in the state is getting more money overall because of McCleary.

In other districts, administrators and paid outside negotiators are still claiming teacher and classified staff pay raises are capped under the state’s new school funding laws – which isn’t true.

WEA members aren’t buying administrators’ excuses and vow to stand united for fair contract settlements. Port Angeles Education Association members plan a rally Aug. 9.

“We’re expecting a pretty large turnout,” said Eric Pickens, PAEA president.

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