Answers to your strike questions

When will we know that there is a strike or not?

  • KEA members will meet at the General Membership Meeting on Wednesday, Aug 26th at 5 pm at Kentlake High School.  At that point, an update on bargaining will be presented, and either teachers will vote to authorize a strike or to accept a tentative agreement, if one is reached.   As of 8/24, it seemed unlikely that an agreement between the KSD and KEA would be reached before Wednesday’s meeting.
  • Please encourage all KEA members to attend this important meeting.  The meeting is for KEA members only.

What is a teachers’ strike?

  • A strike is a long-accepted concerted withholding of our services as a means to bring pressure for a favorable settlement of our collective bargaining agreement with the district.  Statewide, more than 60 have occured since the first in Aberdeen in 1972.  The shortest was half a day, and the longest was the 50 day Marysville strike in 2003.

Aren’t teachers’ strikes illegal?

  • While state law does say that some categories of state employees are prohibited from striking, no such clause exists under the section for teachers.  The state legislature has had several proposed bills over the years  that would make teachers’ strikes illegal, but the legislature chose not to pass them. Precedents in case law from the courts are inconclusive on the issue as well, and mainly come from the period before teachers’ unions were active in Washington beginning in the 1970’s.  In cases where teachers have been ordered back to work, Districts have argued not on the legality of strikes, but on the impact on learning.  Since the law is silent on the issue, strikes are legal.

Can we be fired for striking? 

  • While theoretically this is possible, it is not possible that the district will fire nearly 1,800 KEA members and claim that it helps education in Kent.
  • No teacher in Washington has ever been fired for going on strike, and the Association would vigorously challenge any attempt to do so.  The district must also treat all employees equally, so highly visible strike participants are protected in all strike activities.

Would we make up the days we miss?

  • State law requires that districts complete their full 180 student day school year unless a waiver is sought.  The first day of a potential KEA strike falls on a “Learning Improvement Day”, which is a non-student day.   Almost all school districts have completed the full school year, so you can expect that any days lost will be made up, and therefore, you will earn your full year’s salary.  The bargaining teams would need to resolve when these days would be made up as they finalize a revised 2009-10 calendar.

If we go on strike, what will happen to my pay and benefits?

  • If Kent goes on strike, everyone who worked last year in Kent or other Districts should be paid through the end of August (last year’s contract).  The next payday is September 30th.  Depending on the length of the strike, some or all of that paycheck may be paid out at that time.  These issues are worked out during bargaining.  Coverage for all plans continues if the premiums are paid.  For those who taught in another district last year, your insurance should be paid through Sept 30th with your August paycheck through your former district.  If you taught in Kent, your benefits will also be dependent on the length of the strike and what is agreed upon at the bargaining table.  The WEA will work with KEA and your insurance companies to extend benefits during strike periods.

If we are on strike, can I still go back to my classroom?

  • No.  You should arrange to get any personal items out of your classroom before August 27th, which would be the first day of a strike.

How do strikes end?

  • Strikes end when we vote to go back to work.  Ordinarily, they end when our bargaining team brings us a tentative agreement they believe is acceptable to the membership.  As a group, we vote on it and, if accepted, the stike ends and we go back to work.
  • Part of the settlement will include a revised calendar that allows a full school year for Kent students.  It will likely result in a later ending date for school, but that is a small price to pay for a strong contract.

Aren’t teachers’ strikes illegal?

  • While state law does say that some categories of state employees are prohibited from striking, no such clause exists under the section for teachers.  The state legislature has had several proposed bills over the year  that would make teachers’ strikes illegal, but the legislature chose not to pass these bills. Case law from the courts is inconclusive on the issue, and mainly comes from the period before teachers’ unions were active in Washington beginning in the 1970’s.  Since the law is silent on the issue, strikes are legal.
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6 Responses to “Answers to your strike questions”

  1. Parent Here... Says:

    I have to say that when I first heard of a possible strike I was mad. How could the teachers be so greedy. BUT I have now in the last 3 days done my research and have come to the conclusion that the Kent School District Administration is BIG Business. Shame on them. They do and say what suits them, not anyone else.

    I am telling all teachers to do what you have to do. My family is behind you all the way!

    I am sure we are not the only family that feels this way!
    Speak up everyone!

    We have already lost to many wonderfull teachers to other districts!

    • I Care Says:

      Thank you Parent. Your support is greatly appreciated and inspiring–more than you’ll ever know. Our students are not nameless faces or numbers on a roster. They are kids. They are kids whose parents would rather see them in a class of 23 maximum versus 29. And is their child is in grades first or lower, in a class with 20 maximum. They are kids who deserve to have more one on one with their teachers–teachers who aren’t tied up in endless meetings hashing over the same stuff but under a different guise.

      I want to teach!! Less administration interference=More relevant learning

      Less number of administrative positions=More classroom teachers

  2. Barbara Says:

    Thank you for the information. Teachers need to be as aware as possible, given the situation the KSD has put us in. See you at the meeting tomorrow!

  3. KSD Student Says:

    I wish I got a vote, but since I don’t I’ll ask all of you to represent me. Please don’t let KSD walk all over all of us. Good luck!

  4. Stephanie Gouldman Says:

    I am a proud parent of the KEA school teachers! I support you all! Do not fall down to the district. What they are offering is nothing!

  5. Liz Says:

    Just talked to neighborhood security (love those guys), looks like the vandalism is starting from kids with too much time on their hands and overworked parents. Eight cars were egged last night. Please resolve the strike soon…if this lasts longer than a week I worry what will happen.

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