This Week in Olympia
Busy week for WEA members Occupying Olympia
It’s been a slow week for legislators in Olympia, with no progress on a final state budget.
Most legislators aren’t even at the Capitol – just eight or 10 lawmakers who are responsible for negotiating the budget.
Friday was the 10th day of Occupy Olympia, an action organized by a group of local union presidents. Every weekday since May 1, WEA members have traveled to Olympia to meet with legislators, wave signs, sing songs, write postcards and post to social media. Hundreds of WEA members have participated, and Seattle Education Association President Phyllis Campano said Occupy Olympia has been extended to the week of May 15.
“Join us in Olympia to oppose the bad Senate budget,” Campano said. (Most WEA members are using personal or association leave.)
This week was the halfway point in the 30-day special session Gov. Jay Inslee called on April 24. Most observers say a second special session is likely. Neither the House nor the Senate is scheduled to meet this month. Senate Republicans’ refusal to consider necessary new revenue is a major obstacle.
WEA supports the House Democratic budget, which goes the furthest toward amply funding K-12 public schools. Here’s a comparison of the two budgets.
Poll finds major voter support for collective bargaining rights
Washington voters support local control in our public schools, including our ability to negotiate pay and benefits with our school districts.
That’s one of the major findings in a recent scientific voter poll commissioned by WEA. The poll found strong support for the House budget and major opposition to key elements in the Senate Republican budget plan, including restrictions on bargaining and limits on local decision making.
The Senate GOP budget:
- Reduces funding for special education
- Reduces local control of public schools
- Forces districts to lay off teachers and staff
- Gives windfall tax breaks to Boeing and other rich corporations
- Takes away the ability of teachers and staff to negotiate wages and benefits with their school districts
WEA advertising campaign underway
Using WEA grant money, several locals and UniServ councils are running ads online, in newspapers, billboards and even on theater screens. WEA also is sponsoring Facebook ads. It’s all designed to strengthen support for the House budget and to defeat the Senate budget.
WEA members in the media
Our advocacy for students and amply funded public schools is getting media attention.
The Seattle Times, local NPR stations and other outlets have reported on Occupy Olympia.
Several media sites have reported about the dozens of school district superintendents who signed letters calling on the Legislature to limit collective bargaining.
WEA President Kim Mead appeared on the popular TVW public affairs show Inside Olympia to discuss school funding and the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision.
Olympia paraeducator Cathy Smith attended Gov. Jay Inslee's bill-signing ceremony for important professional development legislation.