Dori saw it coming: Northshore teachers prepare to strike

Jun 8, 2016, 7:24 PM | Updated: Jun 9, 2016, 8:35 am
The Northshore Teachers Association meets and votes the potential to strike June 8, 2016. (Northsho...
The Northshore Teachers Association meets and votes the potential to strike June 8, 2016. (Northshore Teachers Association)
(Northshore Teachers Association)

Northshore teachers took the first step toward a strike Wednesday evening, though, it’s a move KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson saw coming one month in advance.

KING 5 reports that the teacher’s union for the Northshore School District “overwhelmingly” authorized a vote to strike Wednesday evening. It doesn’t immediately authorize a strike, rather, it is the first step. If the union chooses to use a strike tactic, members will have to take another vote to make it happen.

According to the motion, teachers voted on Wednesday, any final decision to strike will happen at the end of summer after negotiations start up again in August. What teachers voted on this week was to allow its union to prepare to strike in the meantime.

Teachers are raising issues with class sizes, security, and pay increases.

The potential for a strike is something KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson reported on in May, though he initially gave teachers the benefit of the doubt. Dori speculated that the teachers leanings toward a strike could simply be saber rattling. At that time, all that was known was that the union, the Northshore Teachers Association, began mentioning a strike as early as March. It was shocking to Dori as the union and the school district hadn’t even sat down to start negotiations. The teachers’ contracts are up in August.

But an analyst with the Washington Policy Center — a right-leaning organization that promotes “market solutions” in the state — told Dori that in Washington, strike threats are usually more than just posturing. That analyst, Liv Finne, also said that it was odd to hear a union talking about a strike so early in the negotiation process.

If you are a student in Washington state, then you are more likely to suffer from a teachers strike than if you lived in any other state in the country. They are talking about a strike even before they have reached any kind of conflict with the administration in that district. It’s worrisome that the March newsletter would call for preparations before they even started negotiating. They started negotiating April 20. It sounds like it’s a predetermined decision.

According to the motion to prepare for a strike, the union is authorized to:

• Organize picket signs and picketing plans
• Scheduling of the strike vote, or contract vote, meeting
• Contacting members over phone to attend the meetings
• Plan for parent and community outreach and support
• Unity actions at schools on three non-student days before school

At the same meeting, union members also voted no confidence in the district’s human resources director, Jeff Sherwood, the person they are negotiating with. A point of contention has arisen between the two sides. The teachers union has joined with the union for Educator Support Professionals (nurses, etc.) and wants to have joint negotiations, but the administration won’t agree to the joint effort.

Union bargaining goals include

• “Appropriate staffing levels, class sizes, and composition to meet our students’ needs.”
• “Qualified substitutes for our schools when needed…”
• “Compensation that reflects our education, responsibilities, and the complexity of our work, sot hat we can choose to live in our community, pay off our student loans, fairly contribute to our families’ budgets, and attract and retain the best educators for our students.”
• “Minimize on-instructional requirements and use of our time (paperwork, unnecessary meetings, technological impediments, etc.) so we can focus on teaching our students.”
• “Minimize District-required testing, so we can focus on student instruction.”

Dori Monson on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dori monsonTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 12 noon for The Dori Monson Show.

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Dori saw it coming: Northshore teachers prepare to strike