More Games: KSD Tries To Coerce Teachers To Cross Picket Lines

In yet another example of KSD’s obstinance and blatant lack of good faith bargaining, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Larry Miner sent a “KSD All Staff” email on Wednesday in the hopes of luring striking teachers and staff to cross the picket line.  The email announced that teachers and staff who decide to cross the picket line and return to work should fill out time sheets for extra pay.  Of course, Mr. Miner did not mention that any wages, salaries, and working condition changes that happen in the KSD must be bargained through the KEA, who has sole bargaining rights for teachers and certificated staff in Kent.  By sending this email, it seems obvious that Mr. Miner knowingly is attempting to coerce teachers to break union lines with pay that he cannot offer without bargaining through the union.  The District’s cries of poverty again must be called into question when they seemingly can always find money for things they want to finance, but are suddenly out of money for the proposals KEA has brought to the table.

Once again, we see another example of the District doing everything it can to “win”, except bargain.   If the District was to actually provide meaningful contract proposals that directly targeted the key issues that KEA members have identified as important to them, this strike would have been over a long time ago.  Instead, a clear and repeated pattern of not bargaining in good faith has emerged: 

  • In April, when bargaining started, remember that KSD offered punitive bargaining proposals such as denying KEA President Lisa Brackin-Johnson the right to accumulate sick leave as she would if she were a teacher in the classroom.  They also proposed not paying any of the teacher’s or principal’s Effective Education payments beyond the state salary model.  These were clearly designed to punish and intimidate KEA members to gratefully accept any crumbs that were to fall from the king’s table. 
  • This was followed by repeatedly ignoring written requests by KEA’s Bargaining Team for information that KSD is legally required to give in an allotted period of time. 
  • KSD’s obsitnancy continued with its “transparency” campaign of posting out of date contract proposals and budget information that they have yet to justify on their website in a deliberant and malignant attempt to sway public opinion. 
  • Let’s not forget the layoff of over 100 staff, followed quickly by the rehiring of nearly all of these staff, which can only be seen as a public relations ploy to spread fear that KSD, too is in a budget crisis– never mind that KSD’s Reserve Fund actually grew during this manufactured “budget crisis.” 
  • Add to this the hired negotiator to do the job Mr. Miner cannot seem to do, the law firm hired to defend the District since the District’s lawyer Mr. Lind seemingly cannot, and  hiring an outside consultant to confirm that KSD teachers are among the lowest paid in the state, and we now see a pattern. 
  • Finally, the creation of paperwork for an injunction against the current strike that is dated the same night as the strike vote, and filling this injunction in court on only the second day of school shows that KSD has never wanted to bargain when they believed they could bully to maintain their power. 

Do any of these steps seem like they will, in any way, help the students of Kent be more successful?  Will they, in any way, help Kent to attract and retain the best teachers, especially when competing with neighboring districts?

It seems obvious that KSD’s leadership has no desire to bargain a fair and adequate contract in a timely manner.  The School Board and Dr. Vargas repeatedly have been given the chance to step up and end this strike by helping to find a middle way, but have chosen to remain silent and hidden instead.  Again and again, KEA has made significant steps towards compromise, only to be met with sneers and counterproposals that are full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.  It is time for the community to step forward and demand that KSD stop the games, and get to the bargaining table.  Kent’s 1,800 teachers and certificated professionals have taken a stand after years of these types of bully tactics and intimidation from the KSD because they are tired of seeing their students fall through the cracks of a school system that has lost touch with its priorities.  We ask all of you to take a stand with us and put an end to this meaningless brinksmanship.


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73 Responses to “More Games: KSD Tries To Coerce Teachers To Cross Picket Lines”

  1. ashamed to be a prior educator associated with Kent Teachers Says:

    Have you listened to your own teachers? All they want to do is get back in the classroom… that sounds like willingness to abandon your crusade and cross the picket line to me. When the people you represent stop believing in your “cause”, what does that say?

    Your significant steps towards compromise… laughable, really. Kent schools have been recognized for their excellence time and time again… that does not sound like “falling through the cracks”… and again, you use people’s names, slander, name calling, and personal attacks when talking about the district members- in direct violation of your own blogging requirements. How dare you personally attack these people who – for so long – have dedicated their careers to supporting the teachers and students, and delete comments from the public that you don’t like- comments and opinions from the public are what you say you are encouraging and accusing the District of denying us the opportunity!

    from a professional stand point, I would have brought in a mediator MONTHS ago.

    Double standards set by this KEA blog alone are enough to make one question how trustworthy these tall tales really are. Keeping the students out of school does not help them be successful. Students seeing their teachers on TV screaming, yelling, and name calling does not help them be quality people contributing to society.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      KEA wins awards…..How did those awards come about? Brilliant administrative paperwork?

      I dare attack these people because I and my colleagues have seen what you don’t see– manipulation, intimidation, and a blatant disrespect for anyone who does not toe the party line. This district for too long has been more about the photo op than about the kids in the photos.

      The only comments deleted in the last month have been blatantly insulting, completely off topic, or have been filtered out automatically by WordPress’s spam filter (which I have almost no control over). If I was truly filtering out all criticism, would I post your comments, which are continually uninformed and off-base?

    • teacher Says:

      I’m not giving up on this. I don’t know anyone else that is either. We do want to get back into the classroom, but not without a contract!

    • Resolute Says:

      Yes,we want to back in our classrooms but with a fair contract that will HELP OUR KIDS. I’m at one of those award winning schools and we have gotten that way through a brilliant principal and amazing staff all working towards the same things but if class sizes continue to go the way they are with no caps and no relief there’s not much we’ll be able to do except get through the day.

    • teacherpride Says:

      I beleive the union is listening to its teachers. 75% voted to choose to stay on strike, despite the court order, until a settlement is reached. That is an overwhelming majority. We made that decision as intelligent, well-informed individuals who are aware of potential consequences of that action. Those who wished to return to work had the opportunity to do so. The district says just over 100 returned and the union said about 60 returned. So, we’ll assume the true number is somewhere in the middle. Either way, it’s not a overwhelming percentage by any means. So, yes, the union is listening to its teachers. We believe we are right, and that is why we will not return to work without a fair contract that includes enforcable class size caps. (enforceable meaning – without district loopholes). Harm to one is harm to all. We stand together.

  2. Jimmy Hoffa Says:

    You can tell when a union is weakening when the paranoia starts to set in. First the totally unfounded accusation of the reasons behind canceling the school board meeting, and now the unfounded allegations of possible strike breaking. If the KEA tried it couldn’t do a worse job of losing the PR battle.

    • National Board Certified Teacher Says:


      Well, to this I would ask you, have you questioned why KSD has not held some sort of community meeting to hear what the public has to say? If you research other strikes, such as in Issaquah, you will see that the school districts involved either held board meetings during the strike or held special meetings to hear the voice of the parents and others involved. Have you been invited to one of these? Has anyone? Why is this not suspicious to anyone?

  3. Teacher X Says:

    Come off your high horse. KEA is doing its fair share of “manipulation, intimidation, and disrespect” as well. Yesterday, a picket captain sent out an email declaring that anyone who crosses the picket line will not be paid. That cost me a day’s worth of pay. I can’t stand to attend KEA meetings anymore because they’re so ridiculously one-sided. Both KEA and KSD are thinking win-lose. It’s become us vs. them. In the end, no one benefits from that. The last time I checked, we were all in this together. Which side is going to step up and begin thinking win-win. Both parties must gain something. What are we offering them? A house divided can not stand. The division is widening.

  4. Upset teacher Says:

    As a teacher I am extremely disappointed in both KEA and KSD. It seems clear to me that any piece of information from the district is taken and blown completely out of proportion. As a teacher who made the difficult personal decision to FOLLOW the court order and return to work, I am offended that KEA would try to bar me from being compensated for the time I have worked. The letter from the district was not in any way offensive, it simple stated that if you were following the court order you would be compensated, and should continue to work.

    I returned to work not for the pay, or to avoid any fines, but because it was the right decision for me. To me, it is more important at this time to return to the classroom, teach my students, and try to regain any respect we can from the community. The education system in Washington has major issues. The education system in Kent has major issues. Striking and attempting to bargain has not accomplished anything. As far as I can see NO substantial progress has been made by the union “standing united together.” Perhaps it is time to try another strategy.

    In my opinion the KEA’s behavior since February has been antagonistic and insulting to the district. Every statement from KEA is slanted to make the district seem the enemy. To be honest if I were on the school board, I probably would have wanted to move the meeting too. How would it have been possible to accomplish anything if the KEA mob was in attendance?

    From what I could see KEA did nothing to prevent the RIFs that happened last spring. Instead KEA was pushing for pay increases, and class size reductions, while people were losing their jobs. The number of RIFs was not 100. Directly taken from the e-mail from Dr. Grohe on May 7, 2009 “At this point we plan to issue approximately 38 full time equivalency reduction notices.” The number was reduced from there because the restrictions on how the federal money could be spent were relaxed. And it is currently my understanding that there are still 4 Kent teachers who have not been recalled to work from those RIFs. If I were one of them I would be offended that the union I paid dues to is on strike months after I lost my job.

    I did not return to work for the pay. I returned because it is where I should be, working in my classroom, and obeying the law. I did not become a teacher expecting to be fairly compensated for my time, or thinking that it would be easy work. I expected to be underpaid and overworked. However, I think that the work is worth doing.

  5. Frustrated Parent Says:

    Parents are getting frustrated with the KEA – while, of course we all want smaller classrooms, this isn’t the year to push this. MEET IN THE MIDDLE AND COMPROMISE.

    Do you want to risk spending too much of the reserves and get laid off? Just because other districts have less of surplus, it doesn’t mean Kent should do the same. A levy won’t pass to make up any shortfalls – too many in the community are not behind this issue. Especially those who don’t have children in school and have been laid off, had to take days/weeks with NO PAY, lost benefits, not gotten a raise, etc!

    To edit the KEA’s respnse above – It is time for the community to step forward and demand that “KEA” stop the games, and get to the bargaining table. Our kids want to go back to school and what you are teaching them is that it is okay to defy authority. When you have a child misbehave in class and they don’t listen, remember you (as well as their parents) helped contribute to the problem.

    I have emailed the School Board, the KEA, called Vargas and even emailed the mediators. I heard back from the the School Board and got a call back from Dr. Vargas’s office. The KEA did not even have the courtesy to respond!

    We are thankful you care about our children and, I don’t think any parent would object to smaller class sizes, but you are picking the wrong time to fight this battle. GET BACK TO WORK

  6. Parent of Kent Students Says:

    I thought it odd that I hadn’t seen anything about the picketers crossing the line to go back to school on this site. Now I see it and it is all spin. You aren’t giving your teachers much credit by saying they were “lured” to cross. It is nice to know that some teachers in the district and in the union are able to think for themselves and defy mob rule. Your blog has become more and more bitter as this strike has worn on. It is time to get back to school, I am hoping there are good sanctions imposed today by the courts, let’s end this strike and work it out in some sort of arbitration during the school year. None of the issues I have read about justify the scrapping of public education for any longer. Put down your picket sign and get back to school!

  7. irritatedparent Says:

    No body is going to “win” in this situation. The only losers are the kids and the other district employees that can no longer pay their bills because they are STILL out of work and probably make significantly less than teachers. Maybe they should strike next?

    It is not about winning and losing its about educating our children to go on to college and become successful adults. That certainly isn’t going to happen any time soon with both sides throwing tantrums and walking away from the negotiations.

    The KEA leaders and administrators of KSD frankly disgust me to no end.

  8. David Says:


    First of all, the “layoff” which you refer to as a “public relations ploy” was not an actual layoff at all. Letters were sent to teachers to inform them there would likely be laid off with the current status of the budget. Then, when more federal funding was received, these warnings were rescinded for most teachers. I suppose Starbucks’ announcement that they won’t close some of the stores they were planning on closing is a “public relations ploy”? This is simply the way business works in the real world and I commend KSD for being up-front instead of offering false security to those teachers who were lost (may they be re-hired quickly!). As someone this riff process directly applied to, I don’t have any beef with how it went down.

    Secondly, I’d like you to explain how the district is supposed to follow the court order for teachers to return to work. I hope you understand that, logically, since teachers must now work or be in contempt of court, the district is responsible, by the same law, to pay them. Or do you think the judge ordered teachers back to work without pay?

    And third, the fact that the KSD was on the ball when it comes to responding to this illegal strike has nothing to do with its ability to negotiate in good faith. I grant you that the district may not have always bargained in good faith; I can’t say. All this is done behind closed doors. With that said, if it’s legal for KSD to strike (like Lisa Brackin-Johnsons says it is!) they ought to appeal this ruling. Otherwise you simply cannot blame the district for going to court. So far, their quickness of legal action simply has shown them to be legally correct. I understand that’s not in the KEA’s best interests, though.

    The NEA is a powerful, well-funded association. IF it believed it could win this case, it would. But no union in Washington has ever appealed a strike to the State Supreme Court. Just think of how much that would liberate unions all over the state to strike! But no, we know what would happen: the Supreme Court would uphold the clear rule of law: strikes by state employees are illegal.

    The absence of clear logic behind this and so many of the communications of the KEA are one of the primary reasons why I and many teachers do not trust it. Now, I don’t believe the KSD is 100 percent flawless either, but at least now I know which side chooses to align itself more closely with the law, and that’s a good indicator of where I should stand.

  9. Got Boxes? Says:

    You know Jimmy, if this union was weakening from paranoia, it would have crumbled a long time ago. (Sorry kenteducationassociation). You have to dig through the emotion to get to the facts.

    Larry Miner has a history of scoffing at teachers and blowing off teachers’ concerns, therefore his email (and this announcement) yesterday did not surprise me.

    The school board has been meeting in secrecy for several days, they admit that. And they didn’t change the meeting to NEXT week. They changed it to TWO WEEKS from now, seemingly in hopes this will all blow over by their next, scheduled, meeting. Don’t you think that’s rather convenient?

    But I agree that more could be done on the PR front for KEA. Right now it does seem like the media wants to focus on folks that are angry at KEA.

    We are not weak. We believe in making sure our kids get the attention they need. We are not giving up until that need is fulfilled. That’s the bottom line.

  10. ST Says:

    I completely agree with Jimmy Hoffa. Getting a little uptight are we? Go back to work!

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      It is hard not to get uptight when people try to use this blog to spread misinformation, repeat arguments that have been disproven, or attack teachers and staff with hurtful and ridiculous accusations.

      • Parent of Kent Students Says:

        Take some advice from the corporate world. If you feel you are in the right, you have no reason to be uptight. I think it might be because you aren’t cogently putting your argument out there by wearing your heart on your sleeve. Unfortunately for you, the district is not waging an emotional battle, so they are winning the PR fight. It doesn’t mean they are on the right side of the battle, it just means they are fighting it a little more effectively. Don’t respond to, nor delete all the negative commentary. Often, it can underscore your point. Those of us reading this sense weakness when we read a post like the one you made above. Remain above the emotion as hard as it is, and you will find your comments being taken more seriously.

    • TLT37 Says:

      I find it laughable that you would think teachers and parents are “uptight” about the fact that the school board decided to cancel the meeting because there simply wasn’t enough issues to discuss. If the fact that our community is in the midst of a teachers’ strike isn’t important enough to address without delay, then heaven only knows what the school board deems to be important and relevant. Our teachers are uptight? Yeah, right. THAT must be it! The school board didn’t want to face their community and listen to the concerns of parents on BOTH sides of this issue–just like they locked parents from entering the district administration building, and changing the meeting time. So if parents are uptight, it’s because these elected officials whom we elected haven’t done their job!

  11. David Says:

    By the way, kudos to kenteducationassociation for a good job allowing dissenters like myself to voice their opinions. Regardless of the degree to which I express my thoughts in the above comment, I respect your integrity regarding openness.

  12. David Says:

    Hey, how come that “above” comment I wrote is still “in moderation”?

  13. ConcernedParent Says:

    By the way, I’ve heard that Chuck Lind and Larry Miner are no longer part of the KSD bargaining team. Who’s replacing them?

  14. KSDEmployee Says:

    I say these things because I care for the community, the people I work with, and the charge of the district. I am one of the employees (belonging to another “union”) you see honking in support every time I enter and leave the district office.

    I *am* for the KEA and KEA strike efforts.

    But seriously. KEA, reconsider your use of rhetoric, especially in this forum. While your phrases might make sense to use in a persuasive speech, they only serve the interests of those who are looking for a reason to discredit your cause.

    Keep hammering at the facts, be transparent, and provide verifiable proof for your claims. Get the local papers involved. A concentrated PR effort will only succeed when you are defending righteous actions… anything less will be easily recognized as spin and obfuscation. Veracity is the backbone of your cause. If you let the bullying tactics push you into using unsubstantiated rhetoric, you will only fall on your faces.

  15. parentandteacher Says:

    I COMPLETELY BELIEVE YOU….but it doesn’t matter.
    I am 100% behind the goals of this strike…and I still believe that another week or two or three is going to get you very little of what you want.
    I realize that when a contract exires, it is usually the logical time to request changes and I believe your union has coached you and prepped you for this for the past 3 years.
    The bottom line is that no matter how badly the district is behaving, they know they have the advantage. Even if layoffs are not “real” in KSD, the threat of that is quite real if you resign from your KSD job to pursue another in another district or profession. That is, if you can find one at all.
    KEA leadership made a huge miscalculation of how the present economy would affect your prospects for success.
    Has KSD behaved abominably? Most likely, yes. I am certainly convinced.
    Do teachers and students deserve more? Absolutely.
    Is a windfall victory for KEA and our kids going to occur if teachers refuse to return to work indifinitely….
    I really do not think so.
    It is the wrong year and the wrong time. Heartbreaking but very real and very true.

    • PLU 92 Says:

      I agree, the KEA has grossly miscalculated their appeal in this fight. They took a calculated risk in striking, then were “shocked” when the KSD went to court. This is a proven tactic for districts around the state. If they were shocked then they are not very good at their job. Don’t forget, union negotiators are paid by the union, they are not “volunteers”. I know this as I am a union member (not a teacher, but a public employee who, by law, CANNOT STRIKE). The shocking part was that KSD did so right away, not after 50 days (such as Marysville). If the teachers walk off the job, why wait? If the teachers had chosen not tostrike and had instead done some information pickets, rallying parents, etc they would have the higher moral ground (and I would be right out there vocally supporting my local teacher). Right now they seem intent on driving the union into the ground, no matter what.

      PS: I wish there was more concrete information on this site instead of “opinions”…There are just no stats, packages, etc to even look at.

      • kenteducationassociation Says:

        The bargaining team for KEA is listed in a previous post you can find if you go back in our archives a few weeks ago. You will see it is made up of a combo of WEA staff and Kent teachers.

      • kenteducationassociation Says:

        Also, this site is for discussion of key issues. It is meant to be a bit inflammatory and controversial. If it isn’t your cup of tea, you will find a softer approach at than here on the blog. Of course, both are going to be biased towards the KEA’s viewpoint because we are not a news organization. If people reject KEA’s viewpoint, one wonders why they bother reading our sites……

        Thanks for your input!

  16. fairwoodelementaryparent Says:

    Ditto what David says above, thus far all my comments have been posted.

  17. Grow Up Says:

    This comment deleted for violating blog policy against personal attacks and name calling.

  18. Education And Dreams Says:

    Don’t give up!

    Someone needs to hold these government-funded robber barons accountable! If the teachers don’t stand up for this, who will?

  19. Concerned Parent Says:

    I just began reading the blog from KEA today – I was immediately set off by the tone of the message – you might want to consider having someone with more emotional resiliance writing the posts. I hear the union talking about feeling bullied, etc but from the tone of the ‘update’ above, I would wonder who is the bigger bully? Just an observation.

  20. Concerned parent Says:

    This makes me want to move.

    I’d be pretty embarrassed if I said “(KEA) has sole bargaining rights in Kent”, when the contract has EXPIRED!!

    KEA lost those rights when the contract expired.

  21. Hmmm Says:

    Why compare Administrators to Teachers? If you wanted to become an Administrator, you had the choice. You chose to become a teacher and therefore must take what you are given. Stop causing grief and more problems because you want to compare apples to oranges. Take what you can get before you have nothing to take at all.

  22. Lola Says:

    Kudos to the teachers that have returned to school. Thank you for not following the pack and actually having the nerve to do what is right. They are the heroes in my eyes!

  23. Mom Irate with the District Says:

    Here are the School Board meetings that were cancelled or rescheduled in the past 4 years. It looks like the second meeting in July is regularly rescheduled/deferred until August. It also looks like the only other time a September regular meeting was cancelled was in 2007 when there was not a quorum present. (It should also be noted that 3 new members of the School Board were elected that fall.) The meeting was rescheduled for the following week, then cancelled when there was not a quorum once again. It also looks like School Board meetings are rarely cancelled or rescheduled. So why was there not enough for the Board this week? I don’t think it is paranoia to wonder!

    2009 Meetings: 48 Scheduled so far, 3 Cancelled or Deferred
    7/22/09 Regular Meeting Deferred until August 12, 2009
    8/12/09 Work Session Cancelled (Regular Meeting same night held as scheduled)
    9/9/09 Regular Meeting Deferred until September 23, 2009

    2008 Meetings: 48 Meetings, 2 Deferred or Postponed
    7/23/08 Regular Meeting Deferred until August 13, 2008
    9/17/08 Special Meeting Postponed (to tour district property) No rescheduled date listed

    2007 Meetings: 34 Meetings, 4 Cancelled, Deferred, or Postponed
    1/10/07 Regular Meeting Cancelled (no reason given) [weather records would indicate snow]
    7/25/07 Regular Meeting Deferred until August 8, 2007
    9/12/07 Regular Meeting Cancelled/Rescheduled for September 19, 2007 due to lack of a quorum
    9/19/07 Regular Meeting Cancelled due to a lack of a quorum

    2006 Meetings: 35 Meetings, 1 Cancelled
    11/29/06 Special Meeting Cancelled (no reason given) [weather records would indicate snow]

    2005 Meetings: 28 Meetings (incomplete record starts on March 25), 1 Rescheduled
    8/10/05 Regular Meeting Rescheduled for August 17, 2005

  24. a Kent teacher Says:

    So, if I understand correctly, if we don’t cross the lines and we get fined, it really doesn’t matter because we will not have to pay those costs because it is a guarantee that the $200 fines will be waived as part of the new contract? Will the KEA’s fines also be waived in the new contract? Good to know that we aren’t having to sacrifice monetarily, while we wait for both sides to settle this. It’s too bad many of our hourly co-workers can’t say the same. They can apply for unemployment. I am glad we are told it is not our concern to worry about them, because it is all the fault of the KSD.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      People want guarantees that there will be no consequences for this strike. Sorry, that’s not going to happen. When it comes to the fines that the judge imposed, the fact is that KEA has already written its amnesty agreement, which would be one of the things we would demand in a final agreement. This is standard, which is why no teachers have paid any fines for violating an injunction order in past strikes. Beyond that, the legal process that it would take to actually enforce and collect the fines is so complex and time consuming, it seems unlikely that they would ever be collected anyway. To collect the fines, the District would have to demand a separate hearing before a judge for every one of the KEA’s 1,700 plus members. WEA would provide each teacher with legal representation, and the District would have to prove that you did not cross the picket line every day. Think about the time and cost implications for doing this 1,700 times!

      Teachers are very concerned about the people that are being affected by this strike– be they other District employees, students, and the community. We did not take this strike vote or injunction vote lightly. We believed that what we are fighting for is just too important to back down on.

  25. AGuestTeacher Says:

    I have the privilege of being a part-time guest teacher and a volunteer in KSD. My spouse works for KSD. My relatives work for KSD. My friends work for KSD. I support teachers, but now teachers are turning against each other and this is really what this strike is going to cost us. I was the union VP in my previous district so obviously I’m not anti-union, but returning to a hostile work environment with teachers harassing other is the worst possible scenario! KEA leadership, if you ask your teachers to forego a paycheck and pay a fine, they might do it… but please don’t ask this of them. Can we please look at other alternatives instead of setting our teachers up to make a lose-lose choice between missing a mortgage payment and betraying friends and values? Teachers, please strive to support each other no matter how angry you are… my cousin and I are on opposite sides of the picket line this week, and yesterday he reached over and gave me a hug. It was unbelievably powerful. Try it.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      WE ARE NOT ENCOURAGING RETALIATORY BEHAVIOR! I can’t say that enough. If people are doing that, it is on their own accord. It would be extremely naive to assume that hard feelings will not come out of this strike, especially as it goes on longer and longer. Members who cross the picket line may have reasons that are very understandable to justify their actions, but that does not mean that others will agree with or accept those reasons. After this strike is over, KEA will work to protect the rights of all its members, whether they crossed the picket line or not. All members have the expectation of equal protection under the contract and the law. All members have the right to due process.

      KEA believes that it is only through a collective show of unity (hence the name, “union”) that the district will eventually come to realize that our issues are real and require real solutions, not simple lip service. We also believe that every person who crosses the line, no matter what their reasons, encourages the District to delay bargaining longer, and thereby, extends the strike. Like one button many members are wearing says, “United We Bargain, Divided We Beg.”

      • AGuestTeacher Says:

        It’s OK if you don’t post this, but I hope you read it and pass it on to KEA leadership:

        I had a very pleasant dinner with fourteen of my husband’s colleagues and their spouses on last night — a few teachers who had crossed the picket line, a few teachers who remain your most vocal supporters, and two administrators. I am not naive to hope that people can put their hard feelings aside and treat each other with compassion. It can be done. It must be done! You are concerned about being “divided” now… I am concerned about being divided later: this year, next year, and five years after that. There is a lot of work for us after this strike is over, don’t you think? We’re going to want teachers/parents/students/volunteers attending board meetings, writing letters to editors, joining PTSA, holding rallies. If you want to maintain a strong union, work to keep relations between ALL teachers strong. Also, please consider that some administrators are possible allies instead of foes. There are some who have been speaking out on the behalf of their teachers at their admin. meetings and will continue to do so. (And yes, you could say I have inside information). I’m well aware that there are some principals who bombard his/her staff with “top-down” decisions, unethical behavior, and belittling attitudes, but don’t make the mistake of painting everyone with that brush. Let’s cool off and use our heads, if not out of a desire to be “nice” then at least as part of our strategy… don’t burn bridges that might be useful later.

  26. Keep It Professional Says:

    Don’t forget kenteducationassociation moderator, to not make this personal. In a true business sense, you must not wear your emotions on your sleeve. I understand it is passion that drives you, but you cannot take it personal. EVERYONE in our community has an opinion, and not very many are in support of the strike. However, to rise above this it has to be ALL business; even when someone posts something on this blog as did “ashamed to be a prior educator associated with Kent Teachers,” of which you do not agree with, you should not make it your mission to talk down to them.

    Stand by your mission, do this with integrity and tough it up when the comments keep rolling in, because as long as this strike continues the comments will keep rolling in. You should not have to justify your actions over and over again if the message this site is posting is indeed up to date and accurate. When people have to explain their self over and over, it typically does not come across in a positive way.

    By the way, I am not attacking you, I am just making suggestions based on what many of fellow neighbors are discussing.

  27. Former KAPer Says:

    Just saw today’s Seattle Times. It seems that KSD is saying that the class size limits aren’t much of an issue, or as they say “very few classes reach that level” (31-34 students) and “most classes from kindergarten through grade six have 22 or 23 students per class” (Seattle Times, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2009, B1, B3). If that’s the case, then what do they lose by putting in a limit? If it doesn’t impact you then you can say “yes” – just like they can say yes to having the day off if gravity ceases to function. It doesn’t impact them, so it’s a non-issue

    Oh, later on Merri Rieger points out that only 6 classes had over 27 students, but that’s only counting K-3. Isn’t the administration’s ability to see the big picture stunning?

    I recall over my time working with KSD that there always were 6th grade classes around and above 30 students, and this was during the “good years” in the mid-2000s. It’s an issue, always has been. 2-30 student classes can make 3-20 student classes, with room for the inevitable transfers and room to have a literacy meeting area, small group working areas, and places to work on science. Experimental, best-practices science instruction becomes very hard when the room is packed with desks, and not every school has the luxury of moving some groups into a bay.

  28. frustrated from the line Says:

    I left the line this morning after working my shift. I have been on the line for every shift since this action started. But, I am getting to the point where I am ready to stop fighting for other people’s children and start looking out for my own!

    At this point I am FRUSTRATED with the KSD and the KEA. THEY ALL need to get something done and done quickly! My spouse and I are both teachers in the KSD and my family will stand to be fined $2,000 by Monday. By the end of next week I won’t have to worry about getting my paycheck at the end of September, I’ll owe it all in fines. I have yet to hear a firm answer from the KEA about how these fines will disappear in amnesty clause. With the way the KSD has been working I don’t trust them to allow this to happen.

  29. David Says:

    Why is my first comment in spot #3 still awaiting moderation? Please reply to me personally by email if necessary.

  30. Ann Says:

    My comments were “in moderation” for awhile and then they just “go away”. And I assure you I had no personal attacks or name calling, unlike the KEA blogger.


  31. covingtonguy Says:

    New plan for you all. Quit. Go on unemployment for the year and see if the school district can get school started before Christmas. They seem to have all the answers so go for it…..Of course that would be really bad for all those kids, but then again they don’t care so why should you.

  32. peter Says:

    Where can I get information on how much the salary of kent teachers are?

    How much do entry level teaching positions pay?

    How much do 5 year experienced teaching positions pay?

    Is this online somewhwere?

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      This is actually really hard to answer. Let me try to give you some sources for you to try to figure that out.

      The Evergreen Freedom Foundation (an anti-union group) and the Seattle Times have both published databases that post individual teacher salaries that are, for the most part, relatively accurate.

      One of the side issues that has been kind of lost in this debate is the issue of how we are paid in Kent. The state pays all teachers in this state a flate rate called the state Salary Allocation Model (SAM), you can find last year’s here: I have too many comments to moderate right now to do that for you.) That will give you our base salary. On top of that, however, is the additional pay we receive for the work above and beyond our workday that is paid from local levy funds. In most districts, this is called “TRI” pay, and is paid automatically . (TRI = Time, Responsibility, and Incentive). In those districts, it is easy to figure out how much someone gets paid. You find their base salary on the SAM, add their TRI pay, divide by 12 months, and there’s your answer. If you snoop around some other districts’ contracts, you probably can find an example.

      In Kent, we use a system that most neighboring districts abandoned years ago called Effective Education. You can find it in Article VI, Sec. 4 of last year’s contract here:

      Effective Ed. is paid after you take a teacher’s base salary and convert it into their hourly rate. Those hours are paid in two categories: 52.5 hrs. of Teacher Eff. Ed. (for grading, planning, tutoring kids, etc.) and 22.5 hrs. of Principal Eff. Ed. (for attending special meetings or events like Open House, participating in book studies, etc.) It used to be that all Eff. Ed. hours had to be claimed via time sheet. This meant that the District actually budgeted a savings of about 20% of Eff. Ed. money that was not claimed each year because teachers would get confused on the number of hours they had to claim or because they ran into bureaucratic snafus related to their paperwork or because they simply didn’t have the time to fill out the paperwork. KEA was able to change the contract about 2 years ago so that most of Teacher Eff. Ed. is now paid automatically in June and December. Principal Eff. Ed. is still paid only if teachers fill out time sheets after completing “approved activities.” This is where our issue with meetings comes into play. Some principals in the District have used the Principal’s Effective Ed. money to hold teachers in long meetings that may or may not have anything to do with a teacher’s position. For example, teachers at one elementary school had meetings from 4-7 pm several nights a week for months because the Principal said that only the part of the meeting from 6-7 counted for Principal’s Eff. Ed. These are the games that have been played for a while that have driven us nuts.

      So, with that long response, are you now thoroughly confused? The short answer is that the contract last year makes it extremely difficult for a teacher to figure out exactly how much they make or to make sure that they are being paid correctly. It also means that KSD employees’ paychecks are not uniform, as in other Districts. The conspiracy theorists out there believe that KSD purposefully has held onto this complex system and its bureaucratic maze to keep its employees from being able to compare Kent’s salary to what they would make in other Districts…..

    • teachershusband Says:

      My wife the teacher

      3000$ per month take home pay, this is after all deductions for taxes, health insurance, retirement etc….

      Masters degree plus 10 years experience.

  33. Tom Says:

    Sorry, but the comments that there isn’t a budget crisis only serve to demonstrate that the author hasn’t bothered to keep up the current events in our state and our economy. The only other explanation would be that for them personally there isn’t a budget crisis because as a government employee they always know they will be taken care of and have minmal risk of losing their jobs, unlike their friends and neighbors who work in the private sector.

    Then there is the authors comment that KSD failed to respond to KEA’s proposals (for which the author conveninetly left out all details that would show whether they were really efforts to seek resolution or just more demands). If the KEA were really interested in seeking resolution where were they last spring when these issues could have been resolved without impacting the start of school. And I suppose it would be totally inappropriate to suggest that the KEA bargaining team work during the summer afterall who ever would expect them to put negotiations ahead of their summer vacations?

    Bottom line if the KEA continues to posture and put the WEA’s (not their teacher’s) interest ahead of Kent students, I hope the judge enforces her penalties and specifically forbids their being waived when a bargain is finally reached. Then we will know if KEA really represents the teacher in KSD or the WEA by their response. Will they step up and pay the $1.7 million so their teachers aren’t impacted financially by their posturing or will they say the $1.53 million of dues they collect each year were not for their members benefit but rather for the benefit of the WEA.

    In fairness I would hope the judge would also impose a penalty clause on both the KSD and KEA requiring them to resolve the class size issue within a specific time frame.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      Could somebody please catch Tom up? He obviously hasn’t been reading our blog for very long….

    • Resolute Says:

      The reason we say that KSD isn’t in a budget crisis is because they keep ADDING to their already large rainy day fund. Most districts keep about 2-3% with 5% being the high numbers. At 5%, KSD should have about $12.8 million in the bank, instead they have $21 million and counting. I will allow that some of that money is tied up in purchase orders and frozen fishsticks but not all of it.

      As to your timing issue, go back and read some of the earlier blog posts, starting in April when bargaining started. Yes, APRIL. KEA also offered to bargain for as long as it took and as many times as it took to get a contract but KSD refused to even extend the hours of bargaining. KSD showed up to sessions without requested information, further slowing the process.

      As to not putting their teacher’s first, how is KEA doing that? EVERYTHING in those contract proposals came from hours and hours of listening sessions held with every teacher who wanted to be a part of it and with many different groupings to get different perspectives. Everything in those proposals are to benefit myself and more importantly, my students.

      • rupert Says:

        With all the money the KSD is making. . .er, I mean, “saving”, I’d love to live off the interest of the extra 2 million from this year.

  34. Kent Mom Says:

    please. can we all just back to school where the kids belong. Not left home alone like many kids have been in my neighborhood because parents have to work. you’ve made your point. now get back to work.

  35. Anton Kramer, KR Says:

    My isn’t there a lot of vitriol floating around the blog!! It would sure help in the blog-o-sphere if people were honest about who they were instead of making-up cute little nicknames. When we have to account for our actions (and what we say) then we happen to be a little nicer to eachother. Both sides of this argument seem intent on building adversity rather than soothing ties and making compromises. I guess as they say, anything in love and war. I only hope we can all get back into the classroom soon (and still be able to work together without hanging onto old grudges).

  36. The Hammer Says:

    Things that make me go, “Hmmmm.”

    If a teacher crosses the line to teach a class and there are no students to be taught, is a teacher still teaching? Hmmmmmm.

    KSD won’t put caps on class size, but now they’re willing to give “Special Projects” pay to teachers, so they can teach empty classrooms. Hmmmmmmm.

    KSD will not limit excessive meetings, but will now pay line crossers for no meetings. Hmmmm.

    KSD will not give teachers more time with students, but they will give line crossers more time without students. Hmmmm.

    KSD will not pay teachers a decent salary to teach, however, they will pay teachers who cross the line not to teach. Hmmmmmm.

    Teachers who cross the line are being promised “Special Projects Pay.” What could these “Special Projects” be? Hmmmmm.

    Watching the clock all day?
    Socializing with other line crossers?
    Checking their email?
    Surfing the internet?
    Having an all day lunch?
    Spring cleaning?
    Working on lesson plans for their imaginary students?
    Daydreaming out the window at the dedicated picketers?
    Beating their gums on their cellphones?
    Keeping the “digits” flexible by texting?
    Taking a cat nap?
    Updating their Facebook page?

    So. . . if KSD promises “Special Projects” pay and the line crossers never get it, was it ever theirs to promise in the first place? Hmmmmmm.

    What are things that make you go, “Hmmmmm?”

    I’m just asking. . .

    • Teacherinkent Says:

      I so agree…I had many doubts the morning I was forced to make the decision to either follow the injunction or stay out for a cause I strongly believed in but didn’t want to strike for. Then it dawned on me…. What would I do for the 7.5 hours I was in the building? Dust, move around furniture? I was already prepared for the first day of school because I had hope in my heart that we wouldn’t strike. I could meet and huddle with my fellow crossers, but what good does that really do? I think your thoughts are reasonable. What is the district thinking? Paying employees for not actually working!!!

    • Matt Says:

      All of the things that make you go hmmm appear to be the same thing said in different ways. I hope this person isn’t one of the teachers 🙂

    • Another Kent Parent Says:

      The Hammer…I hope you are not a teacher….because if you are…I certainly do not want you teaching my child. My biggest problems with Unions is that you have a mob mentality. Whatever happened to freedom of speech. Those teachers that choose to go back to work should be left alone. They have rights just as those of you who are picketing have rights…you do not have to agree, but you certainly don’t need to be rude. I am sure they will just be a little more prepared for their classes when they finally come back…and perhaps this is their way of disagreement with the Union.

  37. Len Dawson Says:

    The district just rejected a proposal from the union that was cheaper than the district’s proposal. This isn’t about money and never was (the district has always had plenty). It’s about respect (they don’t want to give any) and control (they don’t want to give up any).

  38. Ahhh! Says:

    The “coersion” to cross the picket lines pales in comparison to the coersion that the KEA is using to fuel their mob mentality and keep people from going back to work. At least the district is not using emotional, irrational, and damaging tactics inclulding personal attacks and threats. This is the union’s greatest weapon and they are blind to a community’s disgust!

    • IP Advocate Says:

      I guess I see KEA’s “fuel” as something different. Over the few years, we, as teachers in the KSD, have slowly begun to come out of “unconsciousness” in regard to the paternalistic and toxic culture of our work environment. Many of us had grown accustomed to the subtle and not so subtle abuses levied upon us from the administration level. Like those who have been abused, we had become numb to their actions and grateful for the small “pats on the head” we received from time to time which might have given us a little hope that maybe things could and would get better in our relationship.

      Based upon the status quo, I should have been thrilled at the prospect of boxes and tape as a contract item!! The “fuel” from KEA helps to keep my spirit ignited and my energy moving in a positive direction, knowing that as we stay strong, things can change. No matter what happens as an end result of the negotiations, we WILL be changed in a great way!!!

    • Please know your facts Says:

      To: AHHHH

      Have you been on the picket lines? I have and we have had personal attacks by the district. Remember principals are a part of the district! Attacks by principals on the striking teachers even went to PTSA members. All I ask is be careful to know your facts.

  39. Doctor Says:

    My goodness, talk about blatant disregard for those not willing to toe the party line. I’ve spoken with two teachers who made the decision to comply with a lawful order of the King County Superior Court (imagine that) and return to work. Each of them has been receiving anonymous (how childish can they get?) emails at all hours of the day disparaging them for their decision. The union is a mob that employs mob tactics. Oh, I’m sure the union has instructed all members to be respectful of each person’s decision, but we all know how this plays out in the real world. If the teachers/union really want to fix the system and bargain about something meaningful, start talking about merit pay for the fantastic teachers and get rid of the lousy ones—we all know who they are. Good grief, how much money is wasted on the KEA, the WEA, the NEA, et. al.? Oh, by the way, if it’s not about the money and it’s just about class sizes, then give the agreed upon raises ($8 million) back and use the funds to reduce the class sizes ($2.1 million dollar need). Oh, and one last thing—quit crying about how awful the KSD is for going to court after only 2 days of your unlawful strike. Don’t you get it? Your “unlawful” strike prompted the court action. If you want to play hardball, you better know how to play.

  40. peter Says:


    how much does an average 1st year teacher make?

    how much does an average tenured teacher make?

  41. AGuestTeacher Says:

    I hope KEA leadership at least takes it to heart. Make a heartfelt plea to your membership to stop attacking each other. In addition to being a sub and volunteer, I provide childcare for teachers of the district, and one of these teachers was called today on her cell phone while at my house. This is a teacher who has been on the picket line EVERY DAY for you, and her strike leader wanted to know “What KIND of doctor’s appointment she had been to today” when she missed the rally. If an administrator asked this personal question, you’d file a grievance so fast that heads would spin (I hope!) Please take care of your teachers… ALL of your teachers, not only those who support you.

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