KOMO News: With clock ticking, Kent teachers prepare for possible strike

KOMO TV reported today on the potential for a teachers strike in Kent.  See the story and video on the KOMO News website:

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/52916217.html

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24 Responses to “KOMO News: With clock ticking, Kent teachers prepare for possible strike”

  1. NervousTeacher Says:

    I hope you notice the over abundance of comments that do not support a strike, we need to have other options.

    I encourage a private ballot vote on August 26th so that each KEA member can vote in a manner that reflects their true thoughts without any peer pressure.

  2. theresa Says:

    If not now, when?
    KSD had $27 million in the bank at the end of June. Our compensation package asks for $6 million. We are fighting to be a the top of the bottom third. That isn’t greedy., especially when you look at the fact that we pay our new superintendent $240,000 a year- more than our governor or our vice president of the United States.
    Not everything we ask for costs money. More time doesn’t cost more money.
    Time, workload, compensation. That’s all we are asking for. We deserve it. So do our students.

    • Anonomous Says:

      So KSD has a cushion- lets do the Math on KEA- How much does our union dues pay…..Do the Math….It estimates a total of 80,000$ a month in dues paid…..what is all of that money going to.

      So how much does your KEA President get paid??? How about this Mike McNett…..Interesting.

      • Captain Sarcasm Says:

        Anonomous:

        Normally, I wouldn’t ridicule someone on a blog, but your post shows ignorance, and you imply things about two of the best people I’ve ever met that are slanderous.

        The implication is that you are a union member. Apparently you are a bitter one. Maybe if you don’t like how the union works, you should get involved to help fix it. That’s what I did. If you are simply posing as a union member, you are scum.

        First, you spelled your name wrong. Just thought you’d like to know. Oh, and the dollar sign goes in front of the number. I won’t even get into the lack of any real argument that you are making. KEA has employees that get paid a salary from union dues. Teachers get paid a salary from taxes. Salesman get a paid from the money they make from sales. I fail to see any point.
        By the way—the District’s hired negotiator’s fee was only for the period leading up to the strike. He is now making bonus money. Could you formulate a question or conclusion from that fact after you consult a dictionary?

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Dear Nervous:
    Private? How? The last time we voted, I thought that was pretty private. One ballot per person w/o signing your name. Was someone looking over your shoulder?

    Your other option is to NOT work beyond your contracted hours. That sends a clear message that your time is valuable and you deserve to be paid for your volunteerism (aka extra hours). However, that doesn’t pay my bills. Without a decent salary, while I get to watch inflation take way my own children’s chance of getting a good college education, I cannot support my own family. I deserve higher pay because of my teaching experience and skill set, because of all my college education, and because I work with the most important “ingredient” for America’s future….children!!

    If you want to avoid a strike, then step up and show the District you are serious about your profession and want to be paid as the professional that you are.

    Please share with us your ideas on other options. The union is made up of members. Here’s your chance as a member to support that union.

  4. I Support Teachers Says:

    Nervous:
    Overabundance of comments that do not support a strike? I counted more in favor of a good and fair contract.

    Your options WILL BE limited if we accept these onerous package deals from the District.

    I say a strike is the only way to motivate a very unmotivated, self serving administration. They will have to explain why they could not settle a contract after KEA has changed many of their initial proposals at the table.

    I like what KEA has done for me so far and I have heard that same sentiment from many of my colleagues in my building.

  5. Michael Says:

    Re the KOMO web article: I read every comment there (took me forever!) and it is relatively balanced, numbers-wise, pro and con at this point, but the important thing is that the message is being made clearly and repeatedly that we are not asking for huge increases or making unreasonable or unrealsistic demands. Most of the opposition is standard anti-union rhetoric and would be pointed at Boeing Machinists or Engineers or Paccar workers or any other convenient union employees who might be facing a crisis. Ignore the shrill voices that espouse an agenda that has nothing to do with your personal struggle for your rights and for professional respect. You know the truth about your own situation in Kent and you can make a change, but only through solidarity with your fellow members. Be informed, be involved, and be at the General Membership Meeting on Aug. 26th.

  6. Disillusioned Says:

    Dear Nervous,
    Please understand our union is working for the good of ALL of us. A stressed out teacher overwhelmed by huge class sizes, a constant stream of new curricula, and who is forced to count pennies because we are poorly paid, sets a poor example to her students if she doesn’t assert herself and demand a FAIR contract.
    Furthermore, I’ve worked in other districts with less $$$ reserves yet these districts managed to “respect” their staff by allowing them competitive pay, TIME to prepare (teacher directed early release weekly), lower class sizes (once my 3rd grade class reached 26 students, I was given an hour aide daily – none of this “ratio/formula of all grade level average” nonsense our district requires we use to get an aid). Lastly, one district even delayed repairing their admin’s leaky roof so they could use this money for classrooms. I think the main sacrifice our principal told us they would have would have to make was no “summer retreat or gas reimbursement.”

  7. not feeling safe Says:

    What a surprise to hear KOMO this morning saying that Kent teachers are going on strike. Here I thought we were still negotiating and our vote wasn’t until the 26th. Doesn’t appear that my vote counts for anything, that the union people have already made the decision….When will my vote really be heard?

    I feel bad for Nervous who stated her opinion on this site. That is the problem. People are not open to listening to others, inlcuding KEA. There were a lot of people at the last meeting sitting around me that were not in favor of a strike. It needs to be safe to voice both opinions.

    Strikes do not benefit either side. I’m not sure this is the correct answer. Look at the Boeing machinist who are losing a huge deal to another state because of their strike history. The trust of the community will never be the same.

    I agree that we need more money, the district offered that to us. Maybe not as much as we would like but we do have jobs and many in our community dont.

    • Anonymous Says:

      I think all of us know that a strike will not benefit either side (though one would hope we are all on the side of kids). I just don’t know what else we could do (or have done) to get the district to take the teachers seriously. I’ve personally attended two board meetings and one rally.

      Unfortunately we are dealing with the leftover ramifications of a buddy buddy relationship between the district admin and former leadership from WEA. The district needs to know that we as teachers are professionals, I’m not as concerned with the money as much as I would just like time to get my job done. All of the surrounding district have late starts weekly or biweekly to let teachers work with other teachers to plan better lessons. That doesn’t cost money and it shows that we can be treated like professionals.

      Yes, the district has offered more money but I don’t like the strings that are attached to that money. Or will I have the option to reject students from being included in my WASL report in my evalution?

  8. Simplywonderful Says:

    Not Feeling Safe:

    I did not get the impression that anyone was attacking Nervous on here and please do not take this the wrong way. We are in this together. Whether you are involved or not with your union, I hope you realize that every member will benefit from a good contract if in fact we are able to negotiate one. In my mind I wish and hope that those ready to settle for a morsal from KSD will think of the people they are dragging down with them. What angers me are union members who whine about their working conditions but haven’t stepped up to help KEA send that sentiment to the Head Shed.

    KEA wants a settlement and is preparing materials and members in case the members do vote in favor of a strike. Please don’t put words in anyone’s mouth saying they announced a strike. I think that you may have misinterpreted the Komo interview.

    If the community doesn’t support Kent teachers then why should I worry about what they think should we do end up striking?

  9. Just thinking out loud here... Says:

    If the Kent board does not increase its pay or compensation for teachers, I will absolutely look for work elsewhere at the end of the school year. Why stay in Kent when I can get paid THOUSANDS more in a district next door? It’s simple math.

  10. another teacher with concern Says:

    If KEA is not planning on striking, then why have they brought in the strike organizers? to me that says it’s already planned. While I want lower classrooms, more planning time, etc, I do believe that the pay raise today when many of my students have parents without a job is fair..is it as much as I want? Well, of course not. I fear backlash from fellow teachers if I openly vote to not strike. I do not feel that striking will create a positive environment with me and my students parents. I do see that the district cut numerous admin jobs in order to keep more of us teachers around. please dont think I’m negating what I want as a teacher.. of course I want more, but in a time when teachers in cali and other govt employees are being handed IOUs and filing bankruptcy, I am glad I work in a district that has the ability to save some, so hopefully my job will be safer longer. I will fight for smaller class size, more planning time and less mandatory meetings, but I will be voting no on the strike vote and I will work on getting parental support in fighting for what we deserve. In order to keep her job, my wife recently took a pay cut and has to take one non paid day off per month. I’m thankful for the raise I am getting. I do hope that bringing us more equal continues in order to show us that we are valued as teachers, but I cant and wont ask for more money this year.

    • Simplywonderful Says:

      There is something all certificated KEA and non agency fee payers must be very careful with and that is knuckling under to avoid public backlash. If you do, you can certainly expect your eval to be tied to test scores of some kind. Can you control the variables outside the classroom setting that affects your students emotionally? I can’t. But I know those variables affect how well a student performs on a test. It’s immoral for anyone to expect a teacher to produce a miracle. What amazes me are those KEA members outside the classroom (you know who I mean) that don’t give a crap because their evals are safe! I would even go so far to say that some of them are on here posting negative comments against our valiant efforts to get a fair contract– because their positions are not threatened. And no, I am not talking about librarians, music, or PE teachers because they do work with kids.

      • PleaseClarify Says:

        Simplywonderful,

        Who are “those KEA members outside the classroom” that I should know who they are? I have seen mention of KEA members who are outside the classroom multipule times (not necessarily by you) and I honestly don’t know who you they are. Could you please clartify who you are refering to?

        Thanks.

    • I Care Says:

      I am still wondering what admin jobs were cut exactly. Does anyone know? If you mean TOSAS and EAs, aren’t they KEA members?

      As far as that person who said KEA was preparing posters for a strike, that to me is not a pronuncement of a strike. If I prepare my supplies for a
      possible earthquake am I saying one will happen for sure??

  11. CounterpointSue Says:

    I would like to respond to what Another Teacher With Concern said. Believe me, I hear you and understand how you feel about the whole money issue in this recession. That’s a tough one for me, too. I respect my colleagues that are not in favor of a strike; just as I’m prepared to take a stand for what I think is right, I know that they are following their consciences and are trying to do the same. I have already had respectful conversations with some people who are in disagreement with me on this issue, and we have agreed to respectfully agree to disagree with no acrimony or hard feelings. I urge all KEA members to do the same, no matter what happens.

    I would like to respectfully present to you why I feel we should not accept that last proposal:

    When I first scanned the proposal of late July, I was excited, because I thought that perhaps this might be it. I read through the entire thing when I had a little more time and became very concerned. In my opinion, the deal breaker was that the proposal the district put on the table that would give us the slight raise in compensation came with the caveat that we had to accept their entire proposal or go back to the original proposal on the table, which, if I understand correctly, was the one that rolled back our LID days and tied our evaluations to student testing. I think that Lisa could probably address whether or not the district has removed that language from the proposal or whether that is still the “last” proposal on the table from the district. Anyway, if you read through the entire proposal that they posted a couple of weeks ago, there were a few things in it that could be a huge problem for us if we were to accept that whole package. It was a very sneaky proposal in my opinion; they gave us a chunk of what we wanted (enough to satisfy anyone worried about striking in this economy) but slipped in some unpalatable items that would weaken our contract as a whole. It ignored our concerns about time and workload completely. In short, the proposal on the table from late July was one intended to divide our membership. It’s actually an excellent negotiation tactic, and if I were on the other side, it’s exactly what I would have done, because it seems to be working. From what I’m reading in the comment sections of our blogs, the membership is wavering.

    For me, the all-or-nothing approach the district is taking is a bullying tactic, and I can’t speak for anyone else, but I refuse to lie down for a bully. However, that’s also my personality type. I’m definitely an activist/warrior, and I was always the kid that stood up to call someone out when I thought what they were doing was wrong. I never worried about peer pressure and almost took pride in NOT doing what everyone else was doing. I’m comfortable with that. I know that not everyone is. Many people are more cautious of the power and strength of the opposition; they are wary about rocking the boat. In this situation, so people believe a strike hurts the kids too much and they aren’t willing to do anything that would hurt their kids. Others feel this is the wrong time to take a stand. All I can say to those of you that are in that position is–have faith. I really believe that if we stick together on this and take a stand it will benefit all of us in the long term. Yes, it will even benefit the district, because people will stay with companies that treat them well; they look for employment elsewhere when they’re not happy. Most of all, though, the kids are the ones that benefit, because they will have more access to their teachers for individual help (this is a huge problem at my middle school) and will enjoy more creative lessons because the teacher actually had sufficient planning time.

    For those of you that lean towards voting “no” on a strike, I ask you to do just one thing. Please read every proposal very thoroughly, as if you were grading it for content, and if you really, really think that you could live with the long term consequences of every part of it WITHOUT PUBLIC COMPLAINT, then follow your conscience and vote no. You have my blessing. However, while I am willing and able to disagree respectfully with anyone with an opposing viewpoint on this issue, I’m not willing to hear a single word of complaint about the lack of time, the workload they have to endure, the job evaluation process, the violent students/lack of administrative support, or the poor compensation compared to other districts in the area. Not one word. You’re going to talk to the hand, because this ear won’t listen.

    • Teacher Speaks Says:

      I like your responses on here Sue. They are thoughtful and well articulated.

      I agree. If people are willing to accept the bad proposals (and I mean bad, because to me these proposals show a total lack of respect for Kent teachers), then I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR one complaint about paper supplies, out of pocket expenses to pick up the slack that KSD won’t cover, playground duties, extra extra meetings (Learning Team meetings, grade level meetings, staff meetings, more data meetings to cover what was already covered in the LT meetings anyway, IEP meetings, etc., etc)! Not only will you talk to “the hand”, you will talk to my closed door.

  12. PTSAParent Says:

    I have read the District comments and the comments by the union leadership. I can say with all honesty that I absolutely support our teachers….you guys are the best! I also support our District, the Board and our new Superintendent. I feel it is the union mentality/rhetoric that is contaminating the negotiations/public support at this point….and that may feel justified based on past relations with the District. However I ask that teachers ask their leaders to tone down the rhetoric for the sake of our children and work together to come to a resolution that works for everyone.

    I don’t believe the teachers are being greedy and I don’t believe the District is being stingy. There are obviously communication inconsistencies but be careful when making judgements. There is more $$ on the table for teachers. I haven’t heard of any other district that was able to avoid teacher layoffs (job security & keep class sizes stable) and still maintain enough in the savings account to hopefully continue to weather the economic fallout that will probably continue for the next few of years? None that I can think of other than Kent. Yes, other districts might pay more…but they are currently laying off and increasing class sizes (Renton, Bellevue, Puyallup are in the paper this week).

    The District is offering to hold community listening sessions to discuss more late starts/early dismissals according to the latest proposal to give you alot more time to plan…they just want to get public comment before committing/finalizing. Do you blame them? As I recall there was major backlash in other districts when the community was not involved. I’d say they are just being responsible decision makers. The actions of the current board over the past year show that they will hold those community meetings and will support more time for you all, it’s just a matter of getting the community on board. But please be realistic and don’t expect them to do it without involving the parents, daycares, etc.

    All of these issues took years to develop and they will take years to solve. The current offer on the table moves things in the right direction and I think if the union were wise it would be a problem solver, not the in-your-face strike threating style, it would garner public support AND a more favorable deal in the coming years. It is going to take all three parties (employees, district AND community) to solve these issues. We must work together, not against one another. And please don’t involve our kids in your actions. We really do want to support you, don’t make it impossible to do so.

  13. Teacher Says:

    Is it really a raise in compensation if we have to go to more meetings just to get the raise? From my understanding, the last proposal’s added “TRI”/”EFF Ed” that was principal/district directed time. It’s already hard for me to get the 15 hours we have now. Yes, we are given a list of meetings and trainings we can attend to get that money, but there are a lot of scheduling conflicts. It’s frustrating that on paper it looks like I’m earning so much money, however I’m not unless I ditch on my family and other committments to go to a meeting.

    I don’t think that it’s fair that I lose part of my salary if I am unable to make those meetings when I already put way more time in than 15 hrs extra.

    To me it just feels like the district is trying to take advantage of me even more than they already are.

  14. Connie Says:

    Dear PTSA Parent,
    KEA really does appreciate your support and the time and thought you are putting into considering these important issues. I’d like to use one of the many issues we are bargaining to show why we are where we are. Our contract does not include caseload language for special education. This means there are no limits on the number of children assigned to one special education teacher, some have over 40 students. Our physical therapists might be expected to travel to 8 different schools. Our speech teachers have some half again as many students as national organizations recommend. And jobs in special ed. require tremendous amounts of paperwork. There are no limits for any of the specialists who work the students who need special education. Most other districts in our area and across the state do have special education caseload language.
    KEA brought caseload language to the table 7 years ago and we have continued to bring proposals each year since. We have tried to work peacefully and quietly. We have had agreements that the district would create a committee to study the issue with no follow through. Now, with 7 years gone by, some children have passed their entire elementary career with a special education teacher struggling to meet their needs because of a very high caseload. Others have seen special education teachers come and go from their schools year after year – some have even left mid-year, because the workload is beyond reasonable. Most children in special education need consistency and most parents of children in special ed. will tell you that having the same teacher is very important. These children will never get that learning time back. After this long with no results, it is time to take a stand. I do believe that the children of Kent deserve a quality education, and that includes children in special ed. I am taking a stand for the sake of our children.

  15. Teacher Says:

    Dear PTSA Parent,
    Yes, these issues have been festering for years. If you have had children in this district for any length of time, you may or may not have noticed that, historically, Kent teachers have not been very aggressive in their negotiations with the district. While we were accepting the status quo, other districts were threatening to strike or did strike. The consequence of our being passive is that teachers have been teaching a mile wide and an inch deep, for quite a few years, because of our increasing workload. Constantly, we are being asked to switch gears, re-train, and start again. I liken it to treading water with my head barely above the surface. This isn’t the best learning environment for your children.

    As parents, you may walk into a school and a classroom and see a warm, inviting, stimulating learning environment. You may have seen perfectly executed lessons being delivered by highly qualified teachers. But what you haven’t seen are the extra hours, after the school day ends and on weekends, that your teachers put in to make sure the next day goes smoothly. Would you rather see teachers sitting at their desks planning and correcting papers during their paid hours, which are the hours we get paid to work with your children? I don’t think that would be in the best interest of student learning. Teaching is unique in that our paid hours are used for daily contact with students. That’s what we get paid for. What we don’t get paid for is the planning, organizing, researching, gathering of materials that needs to be done, daily, to plan just one day in the classroom.

    Teachers work those extra hours because we do believe in providing a quality education for our students. It is very disappointing to see that our administration doesn’t value the job we do or view its teacher as a valuable asset to the community.

    One last word… about people being grateful for a small raise during these times. I have been in Kent to know for a fact that when we had the robust, dot.com years, the district didn’t want to give salary increases and during the recession before now, they didn’t want to give salary increases. So I am left wondering, what would the economic conditions need to be in Kent before they would be willing to address the issue of fair compensation?

  16. just a thought Says:

    I wanted to write to put a thought out to those people who are voting either in favor of or against a strike. I have read a lot about how people are concerned about the possibility of a strike and how they are worried about making it known that they do not support a strike at this time. I would hope that most people would respect choices. I know that I do, even if you don’t agree with my opinion. However, I worry about some of the thinking I am reading and this is why.

    First I should say, that I support, 100%, a strike if the District does not start to negotiate reasonably….with that being said, I also feel inclined to state that I BELIEVE in all three main issues for which we are negotiating. I don’t think that one can go without the others. We deserve TIME to develop lessons and work with our team to create innovative, exciting lessons for our students. We also deserve a WORKLOAD that is reasonable and maneagable so that we can implement those same lessons with enthusiasm for our students and have a life with our families. And finally, we deserve to be reasonably and competitively compensated for the TIME and WORK we put into our jobs and our students. I firmly and truly believe in all three of these issues!
    For those of you who are considering voting no on a strike if these issues have not been appropriately addressed by the district I do have a question for you.
    Are you voting no because you do not BELIEVE in the issues of which we are negotiating, or are you voting no because of some feelings that you are having?

    I have a lot of the same feelings. I feel frustrated by the lack of consideration and respect the district shows for its teachers and students and student’s families. I feel that a strike is a horrible solution to a difficult problem. I feel that this is a terrible time to strike in a large part because of the economy. I feel sorry for the many many families that have been laid off, or lost jobs, or took pay cuts.

    BUT, I also feel sometimes that I don’t care, just like they didn’t care about us! That may sound harsh, but here is my thinking. Teachers have been fighting for fair compensation, workload, and time issues not just for a year, or 2 years, or even 5 years, but for 10, 15, 20 and more years. You didn’t see people caring about how unreasonable teachers salaries, and work expectations were when the economy was booming did you? I don’t think so, they still managed to cut funds from us. The fact of the matter is, there is no good time to strike, because striking is not fun and it doesn’t make happy people. I don’t want to strike, but I have to say, I BELIEVE in the issues for which we are negotiating, and even though I don’t FEEL fantastic, I will be damned if I back down….I deserve better, you deserve better and most importantly our kids deserve better!

    So again I ask you to really think about why you are voting no…is it because you don’t BELIEVE in the issues for which we are negotiating or is it because you FEEL bad about the timing, the community, or something else. If you can honestly say that you are voting no because of your beliefs, than more power to you. If you are letting your feelings stop you from doing what you believe is the right thing, you might want to think again…and if you do vote no still, pleas as stated by others DO NOT complain about your work situation! Sometimes the most caring people in the world need to set their feelings aside to do what is right and what they believe in….I know I will!

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