Seattle teachers’ union members have voted to illegally strike if the labor bosses and school district negotiators fail to reach a contract agreement. The illegal strike would begin next Wednesday, in order to get maximum exposure for the union’s demands by delaying the scheduled start of school.
The teachers’ union has “proposed a raise of 18 percent over three years, down from the originally proposed 21 percent over the same time period.” The wage hike demands “would be in addition to the state-authorized 3 percent cost-of-living raise to K-12 employees over the next two years, plus an additional temporary 1.8 percent increase that expires in 2017.”
In response, the district offered an “8.2 percent increase over the same time period, not including the cost-of-living raise.” The union refused the oppportunity for its members to see their salaries rise by over 13% – including the state raises – over the next three years.
Seattle is not the only school district in the state struggling with teachers unions’ illegal strike threats. Via the Seattle Times,
“South Whidbey teachers went on strike Thursday and picketed in front of South Whidbey High School to show support for their bargaining team. School is scheduled to start Sept. 8. The Pasco School District canceled school for Friday, the fourth day of a strike after the two sides failed to reach a contract agreement. The Spokane school district and union reached a tentative agreement on Thursday, averting a strike planned for Friday.”
The timing of the illegal strikes are, of course, deliberate. Teachers’ unions threaten to strike at the beginning of the school year in order to cause as much disruption to working families and students as possible. Sadly enough, teachers’ unions holding schools hostage to demands has become a ritual—Washington State is “at proportionately greater risk of missing school due to a union walkout here than in any other state.”
“On average, public-school teachers in Washington receive just over $83,000 in pay and benefits for a 10-month work year. This amount is scheduled to increase. This year, the Legislature increased school spending by 19 percent. It also provided full funding for two teacher pay raises over the next two years — a 3 percent cost-of-living raise to K-12 employees over the next two years, plus an additional temporary 1.8 percent increase that expires in 2017.
“By comparison, the average worker pay with benefits in our state is about $68,300 for a 12-month work year. Most working families do not know whether they will receive a raise this year, let alone what they might receive over two years. “
Of course, the vast majority of teachers deserve their paychecks and top-notch benefits—they play a fundamental role in society. And, in turn, society pays teachers via their hard-earned tax dollars. But, their fundamental role—and relationship with taxpayers—is exactly why illegal strikes are so damaging. Finne writes,
“This is why strikes are so hurtful to communities, families and children. People work hard to pay their taxes and support local schools. When union executives continually ask for more and seek leverage in contract talks by shutting kids out of school, it weakens the bonds of community that should draw people together.
“Strikes divide parents from teachers, and teachers from administrators. Strikes damage the social fabric of school communities, especially when families are returning to school with high hopes for a successful year of learning.
“The community is already working to boost teacher pay, even as many teachers make more than the average family income in their area.”
The state Legislature granted teachers cost-of-living pay raises during the 2015 legislative session. Taxpayers have put up their money. In response, union executives are deliberately disrupting taxpayers’ lives as thousands of students and families wonder when schools will open their doors.