Teachers Strike Heads Into Second Week in Seattle

by | September 14, 2015 AT 10:50 AM

By Nina Shapiro and Jim Brunner

Seattle Public Schools teachers are heading into the second week of a strike, with no school planned Monday.

Negotiations between the Seattle Education Association (SEA) and the school district continued Sunday, but without enough progress to predict an end to a teacher walkout.

At an evening news conference, teachers-union representatives said too many differences remain with the district over pay, student testing and a proposal to lengthen the school day.

Teachers made a new offer on pay Sunday, asking for a two-year deal with a 4.75 percent raise the first year and a 5 percent raise in the second, in addition to a 3 percent cost-of-living raise offered by the state.

That was down from a previous offer of 15.3 percent over two years, including the 3 percent COLA.

SEA representatives blamed the School Board and school-district officials for the impasse and said they were eager to reach a settlement and start school.

"We want to be there. We want to be there now," said Campano, speaking to reporters at the Neptune Theatre before a benefit concert for the striking teachers.

Talks were scheduled to continue into the night.

The district did not release details of its latest offer, made over the weekend, which would compensate teachers for an addition of 20 minutes to the school day.

Instead, at an afternoon news conference district spokeswoman Stacy Howard handed out a chart that showed how teacher salaries would rise if a previous proposal by the district were implemented.

At the end of three years, a starting teacher's salary would amount to $51,881 and a veteran teacher would make a maximum of $99,762.

Those figures represent a 14 percent increase over three years, including contributions from both the district and the state.

"It is not what we would like, but it is what we can afford," Howard said.

The union, which represents secretaries and classroom assistants as well as teachers, has said its strike is not just about money, but also issues including teacher evaluations, caseloads for school psychologists and other specialists, and the extent of student testing.

Meanwhile, SEA said on its website that "strong support" was "coming in from across the country and around the world."

The union has met with shop stewards from the engineers union at Boeing.

(c)2015 The Seattle Times