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Seattle teachers rally for higher pay as deadline for new contract approaches

Seattle teachers rallying along I-5 in mid-August. (KIRO 7)

Seattle teachers have moved from the classroom to the bargaining table, after gathering outside Seattle Public Schools Headquarters on Wednesday, where they rallied for a new contract.

Seattle teachers rally along I-5 in support of better pay

Teachers had originally set Aug. 21 as the deadline to reach an agreement. Negotiations are now coming in under the wire, with the school year beginning soon.

“We said the 21st was our date, and here we are, and we’re not done bargaining,” said Seattle Education Association President Phyllis Campano. “We want to get our kids to school on time, we want to get our classrooms set up, we want to be ready, but it’s not done.”

The city’s teachers are pushing for a handful of changes, including higher pay and better racial equity among staff.

“We know that the money is there,” said Campano. “We also know that there’s finances to invest in educators of color, and to retain our educators of color, which is a huge support for our kids.”

Meanwhile, there’s a fear that because of a lack of competitive pay, Seattle could end up losing teachers to other school districts.

“We know of educators that are leaving to go to Shoreline, Mukilteo, and Edmonds for a higher rate of pay,” Campano described.

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Despite an 11 percent pay bump last year, teachers cite concerns over the high cost of living that walks hand-in-hand with Seattle.

“I think we’re still under-funded — most of our teachers live in the Seattle area, [and] the cost of living is still high,” said Spanish teacher Lupe Barajas.

Negotiations are set to resume at 12 p.m. Thursday. Next Tuesday, teachers will either ratify a new contract, or vote on their next steps.

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