Saturday, September 19, 2015

SEATTLE STRIKE SUSPENDED; MEMBERS VOTING ON TENTATIVE AGREEMENT SUNDAY

The Seattle teachers strike has been suspended. There is a tentative agreement. Labor Notes is reporting that the contract proposal passed the Seattle Education Association's Executive Board 17-5 and 60% of the Representative Assembly then voted to approve it. As far as union majorities go, these numbers show there is some real dissent in the ranks.

There is a membership meeting on Sunday for a final vote on the proposed deal. That should be one interesting gathering.

From the perspective of social justice unionism, this agreement looks like a real victory with student recess added as a mandate, greater student access to services, less testing, race and equity teams established in 30 district schools and of major significance from my point of view: an end to teachers being evaluated based on student scores on standardized tests. These are substantial gains, the likes of which we haven't seen in New York in ages.

From a financial standpoint, the deal has some major detractors which explains the 40% no vote at their RA. These comments are taken directly from the Seattle Education Association Facebook page:

  • No pay increase the last three years and now we get a 9.5% increase over a three year period (3% 2015, 2% 2016, 4.5% 2017)    Unbelievably disappointing.
  • Completely disappointed in the pay increases.  This is barely more than the district offered last week.  Nice on the other issues, but minimal raises are unacceptable to me.  I urge members to vote down the TA (tentative agreement).   We deserve professional pay and this isn't professional pay.
  • 17-18 teachers get a 4.5 increase in their workday for a 4.5% increase in pay.  And this is framed as a RAISE?
In contrast, one of the agreement's supporters says:
  • Without all the details, this is pretty good.  I am wondering if those of you who are saying it is not good, are saying that because of the pay raise.  The raise is 9.5% over 3 years.  That is close to half of what was originally asked for.  That's good in the field of education.  In the span of 3 years, it is a better raise, than I have ever had in 20 years of teaching except the pay scale jumps when I have paid for and earned more credits/degrees.  Half of what was originally asked for is a win when you are bargaining with a district, especially this district.  And then add the state cola: 14.3% in three years.I am actually beginning to feel like everyone is realizing educating kids is important. Would I like more?  Of course I would, but this is the minimum of what I would have been happy with.
On the non-financial educational issues, the rank and file reaction on Facebook has been mostly favorable with comments such as:
  • Look at all our gains! Only district to bargain recess, testing data not suspended but ELIMINATED from teacher evals, better language for subs, SEAOPS, and paras, better SPED ratios, caseload caps, not working for free...the list goes on! I know it's hard not to get hung up on salary, but that fight isn't over.  Let's make it what it is: a LEGISLATIVE issue! Demand they fully fund education!  Bargaining is a compromise and no, we didn't get everything we wanted.  Personally I'm happy with the TA and am so thankful to our bargaining team.  Way to go!  I will be voting yes!
On the other hand, we did find this exchange on Facebook:
  • Good work.  What about special ed ratios?
  • Increase for middle and high school ACCESS to 13:1:3, decrease of SM4 to 7:1:2 preschool 10:1:3.  Everything else stays the same I think.
  • I am an Instructional Assistant in a middle school ACCESS program.  It is really hard to stomach that after the strike the numbers in my program went UP with no additional supports.  It will be impossible to serve the students effectively.  It's already been a challenge with 10:1:3.  So confused.  Agog.
Wishing you the best tomorrow SEA members.  On the east coast, we are very interested to see how this goes and this blog wholeheartedly supports the labor militancy.

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