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Seattle teachers union to vote on strike authorization

Members are expected to vote online over the weekend on whether or not to authorize a possible strike during contract negotiations with the school district.

SEATTLE — The Seattle Education Association (SEA) will vote on a strike authorization over the weekend, according to a release from the union.

The union represents around 6,000 educators who work for Seattle Public Schools (SPS). Contracts with the district expired on Wednesday, Aug. 31 as the two sides continued bargaining over a new agreement. 

"After bargaining all summer, SPS has yet to agree to proposals that would hold them accountable to meeting student and educator needs," SEA President Jennifer Matter said in a statement.

The union claims it is bargaining for a contract that "puts in writing the district's responsibility to do more for all of our students and educators for years to come." SEA also said there is a lack of student support in the district, alongside widespread educator burnout.

The union hopes to come to a tentative agreement with SPS before a strike becomes necessary, Matter said. 

A strike authorization does not mean a strike will happen; it gives the union authority to hold a strike, should contraction negotiations fall through.

In a letter to parents, the district said conversations around special education and multilingual education have caused a delay in the bargaining process.

The first day of school is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 7. The district said it is their goal to start classes on time.

A district spokesperson said SPS's proposals "outline a plan that is aligned to our district's instructional philosophy that puts students first, creates inclusive learning spaces and provides educators with generous compensation, including professional development, career opportunities and benefits." 

The spokesperson said SPS looks forward to continuing to bargain with the teacher's union on a contract "that moves us toward providing an equitable education for every student in our care."

SEA is planning to picket on Wednesday, Aug. 31 at SPS buildings before teachers head to classrooms to prepare for the school year. 

Several other unions around the region have moved toward picketing in the midst of bargaining new contract agreements with school districts. 

The first day of school in the Kent School District has been canceled multiple times while teachers are on strike. Educators in the North Thurston Education Association picketed before coming to an agreement with the school district. 

The Port Angeles Education Association also voted to authorize a strike in the midst of talks with the Port Angeles School District. 


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