The Seattle Education Association reached a tentative agreement with district bargainers early Tuesday morning to settle a strike that began last week and delayed the start of the school year for over 50,000 students.
On Tuesday afternoon, the fifth day of the strike, the SEA’s board of directors and elected building representatives voted to suspend the strike and approve the agreement. School is scheduled to start again Thursday. All of the union’s members will vote on whether to approve the deal Sunday.
The association, which represents about 5,000 teachers and staff members, is asking for pay increases to match the increased cost of living in the city, guaranteed student recess time and fairer evaluations.
Initially, the district had offered teachers a 9 percent pay increase over three years, although the association countered by demanding a 10.5 percent increase over two years.
The agreement gives school staff pay raises of 9.5 percent over three years, in addition to the state cost of living adjustment of 4.8 percent over two years, according to a statement on the union’s Facebook page. It guarantees 30 minutes of recess for all elementary students and says that test scores will no longer be tied to teacher evaluations. It also includes a promise to enact policies to reduce the number of standardized tests.
Union leaders are hailing the deal as a victory.
“This is a hard-fought victory for the kids of Seattle, and I am proud of SEA members and our incredible bargaining team,” said Jonathan Knapp, SEA president in a statement. “This agreement signals a new era in bargaining in public education. We’ve negotiated a pro-student, pro-parent, pro-educator agreement. We really appreciate the strong support from parents and students.”
Stacy Howard, spokeswoman for Seattle Public Schools, said at a press conference Tuesday that bargaining teams had worked through the night to reach a deal. She added that details of the agreement cannot be released until SEA has the chance to speak with its members.
“This is a great day. This is so good for our teachers, for our students," Howard said.