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Tumwater teachers defy court ruling, vote to continue strike

“We will be back on the picket lines tomorrow (Thursday) and the day after and so on until our bargaining team tells us they have reached a fair and reasonable agreement,”said Tumwater EA President Tim Voie. (KIRO 7 image)

After a court ruling ordering Tumwater teachers to return to school, members of the Tumwater Education Association overwhelmingly voted Wednesday to continue their strike.

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“While there is nothing we’d like more than to end this strike and be back where we are most comfortable, after a lot of individual reflection and group discussion, we’re not giving up on our students, our community and ourselves,” Tumwater EA President Tim Voie said in a newsletter. “We will go back to school when the District is ready to give us a fair and reasonable contract that will attract and retain great teachers and keep our students safe.”

Teachers have been on strike since Sept. 1.

Teachers say they don’t want to defy the court order, but the district is determined to settle the disagreement in court.

“We will be back on the picket lines tomorrow (Thursday) and the day after and so on until our bargaining team tells us they have reached a fair and reasonable agreement,” Voie says.

The district said it’s notified the TEA that if members don’t return to class on Thursday, it will be forced to seek relief in the courts. Friday will be the first day back for students.

“This is not an approach the district takes lightly, but is a part of the process to help get our students and staff back to school,” the district wrote in a news release.

The school district filed an injunction last week in an attempt to end the strike. On Wednesday, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Lanese ordered teachers to go back to school.

“The order will enjoin a teacher strike that is happening right now, effective immediately, and will order the defendants to notify their members of this ruling as soon as possible,” Judge Lanese said.

Teachers say Lanese did not impose fines, nor indicate a start date. He asked both sides to come to a solution rather than look to the courts.

Earlier Wednesday, Lanese said that if the teachers defy his order, he’ll cross that bridge when he comes to it, according to KIRO 7. Lanese said there is real harm posed to students by teachers remaining on strike.

Teachers rallied outside the courthouse Wednesday to demand competitive salaries, lower class sizes and more. They chanted that despite the ruling, “it’s not over.”

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