Teachers Strike in Seattle


Teachers strike in Seattle

On September 7th through September 13th, more than 6,000 teachers and school staff went on strike. September 7th was supposed to be the first day of school for approximately 49,000 students in the Seattle school district.

The reason teachers and school staff are going on strike is to demand more support for students. This includes educational and emotional help for students, especially those with special needs. Also, they want to include interpretation and translation services for those receiving multilingual education and improved special education staffing ratios, according to the Seattle Education Association. Teachers and school staff are also demanding better pay. The Seattle school district is not the only district demanding better pay, other school districts across the country are dealing with teacher shortages and those teachers are voicing their frustration with being underpaid and under-appreciated, especially during the pandemic.

Ninety- five percent of voting union members approved of the strike while 57% voted in favor of Tuesday’s resolution to suspend it. Unfortunately, the Seattle Education Association (SEA) voted Tuesday afternoon to suspend the strike and return to classrooms starting Wednesday. The five days that were missed will need to be made up during the school year, but the Seattle Education Association is negotiating over improvements to classroom size, pay and health services. The SEA president Jennifer Matter states, “Our strike shows the power that educators and community have when we unite and call for what our students need, we should all be proud of what we’ve accomplished here for our students and our schools.” 

The Ridgefield school district also went on strike in Washington. The Ridgefield strike started Friday, September 9th and is still going on right now; the district had to close down the school till the strike ends. The reason that the Ridgefield teachers are going on strike is because negotiators failed to reach a contract agreement and more support for students. Ridgefield had a three year contract that expired on August 31st, 2022 just before the start of the school year. During a Tuesday evening school board meeting, many people who spoke during the 45 minute meeting supported the Ridgefield strike by supporting the teachers and criticizing the district, some even criticizing the union.

Ridgefield district and union negotiators have met for many hours of bargaining from Saturday through Tuesday. The co-president Elizabeth Stamp stated in the Monday session, “We remain committed to reaching an agreement that ensures more support for students, so they get the resources they need to thrive. Our district has the resources to do what we’re asking, so we hope the district team is ready to move and make a deal happen today.” 

With the strike and the school closures the missed days will have to be made up during the school year or during breaks in order to give students 180 days of instruction and seniors 175 days of instruction before graduating. The date for the graduation ceremony for seniors will be unknown until the strike ends.