TUMWATER, Wash. - The strike ended for teachers in Tumwater, after more than two weeks on the picket lines. The school district and the Tumwater Education Association reached a tentative agreement (TA) Sunday night.
If union members ratify the contract Monday, school will start back up for most students Tuesday.
Negotiations have been ongoing since May, and the strike - since Sept. 1.
There were emotional moments Sunday as the last teacher strike in Washington state came to an end, and Tumwater -- found common ground.
Tumwater teachers cheered and high-fived in the district headquarters parking lot after the two sides reached a TA and 16 days of striking came to an end.
“Feels wonderful,” said Tim Voie, Tumwater Education Association president and teacher. “We’re back with our kids on Tuesday and that's where we want to be,” he said to teachers cheering behind him.
The teachers were still rallying just a few hours earlier.
“Just trying to get this solved,” said Matt Bell, a Tumwater teacher
“We want to make the salary professionals should make, but it's really at this point more about student safety issues and class sizes,” said Kathleen Alviar, another Tumwater teacher.
The union said the tentative agreement address all those issues.
“It’s been a long haul,” Voie said. “I've seen all the work that they've done,” he said.
According to the school district, teachers will get a 16.7 percent raise.
They said in an emailed statement, "This agreement honors the valuable work our educators conduct with students as well as our commitment to providing a professional and competitive wage."
The contentious process also dragged out in court, where a Thurston County judge ordered teachers to stop striking. They didn't - and were scheduled to be back in court Monday, but now the tentative agreement cancels that hearing.
The teachers out here say it was all worth it.
“We are stronger for this strike and we're going to be better teachers for our students after this strike,” Alviar said.
“We are going to look back on this struggle we've been through and they're all going to know we did something epic for the community, and for our students and for our families,” Voie said.
The district also added, the tentative agreement means Tumwater will start this school year about $4.5 million in debt, and the 2019-20 school year with a $7.5 million deficit.
It said district leaders are looking for “potential cost-saving measures” costs for this year and will work with legislators to “improve the significant inequities in the new state funding model that are penalizing Tumwater.”
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