Tacoma teachers voting on tentative agreement

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by JAKE WHITTENBERG / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @jakewhittenberg

KING5.com

Posted on September 22, 2011 at 6:32 AM

Updated Friday, Oct 25 at 12:08 AM

Poll:
Should Gov. Gregoire intervene in the Tacoma teachers strike, or should the two sides figure it out on their own?

TACOMA, Wash. -- Tacoma teachers have gathered at Mount Tahoma High School for a noon vote to ratify a newly proposed contract. If approved, it would officially put an end to the weeklong teachers strike.

Teachers are now reviewing details of the new contract, which include the following:

*No changes to class size
*No pay cuts for teachers
*No changes to teacher transfer policy for the 2011-2012 school year
*2012-2013 committee of teachers and district officials will come up with a new teacher transfer policy

Teachers are expected to approve the new contract, which will mean the district's 28,000 students will head back to class Friday.

The tentative agreement was reached between the Tacoma teachers union and the school district Wednesday after a seven-hour meeting with Governor Gregoire. She stepped in as a mediator after it appeared negotiations were getting nowhere.

Gregoire said the agreement is impressive and should be used as a model for other school districts in the state.

"I said to them you're never going to get an agreement that can dot every I and cross every T," said Gregoire. "It's got to be based on trust. Trust starts today and the proof is going to be there."

Both sides appeared happy with the new contract agreement.

"It's been a long process but we got what we've been looking for," said Andy Coons, Tacoma Education Association president. "We have a fair contract that respects the teachers and is also good for the students of Tacoma."

"We begin the process of healing as a school district and a community and I say thanks to both bargaining teams for creating a fair contract for Tacoma," said Arthur Jarvis, Tacoma School Superintendent. "We say thank you."

A lot of parents are also happy about getting their kids back to school. The agreement comes in the nick of time. The district said it has received a handful of requests from parents who were fed up with the strike and ready to transfer to another school.

"None of us saw this coming," said parent Jennifer Harrison.

"I think all families are probably feeling some pain from the extra money that it's cost them to try to find daycare for the children because they're out of school," said parent Nikki Ray.

Once the contract agreement is approved, lawsuits filed against the teachers for defying a judge's order to return to work will be dropped.

KING 5's Liza Javier contributed to this report.


 

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