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CHS Pics | First Seattle teachers strike in 30 years takes to the streets


Garfield educators picketed along 23rd Ave Wednesday morning (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

With a $90 million gap in the latest reported negotiations between the Seattle Public Schools district and the Seattle Education Association union representing around 4,000 educators in the city, the first day of pickets brought red shirts, marching, and chants to the streets around Capitol Hill’s public schools.

The first teachers strike in 30 years in Seattle appears headed to lasting more than one day. Educators in Wednesday’s picket lines say negotiations appear to be, for now anyway, at a standstill. No new bargaining updates have been posted by the union since Tuesday. Meanwhile, SPS has scheduled what it is calling “a brief press conference” Wednesday afternoon for updates on the strike. UPDATE: SPS officials said the district currently has no plans to turn to the courts to end the strike and the bargaining team is expecting to resume negotiations on Thursday. “No, there is no school tomorrow.”

Seattle Parks says that more than 600 children have been registered per day for day camps at 16 Seattle community centers to help with child care during the strike.

On Capitol Hill Wednesday, 47 of 60 slots at Miller Community Center were registered while the other central city location on Queen Anne saw all 50 spots claimed plus a handful of students on the waitlist.

Wednesday on the lines, teachers were holding up the early victory on winning a guarantee of 30 minutes recess for students as an example of the larger fight they are waging.

“We’re out here striking for the schools our students deserve. Absolutely we’re striking for decent pay so that teachers can afford to live in the cities that they teach,” Garfield teacher and education activist Jesse Hagopian told CHS. “But more than that, we’re fighting for race and equity teams in every school across Seattle so we can deal with the fact that the Seattle Public Schools suspend black students at four times the rate of white students.”

Lowell (Images: CHS)

Meanwhile, logistics for maintaining the strike range from the critical (bank accounts) to the mundane (bathrooms!). We’re told Lowell Elementary strikers are getting some much needed support from Broadway businesses: bathroom access. “We intend to host them all day in our Capitol Hill branch as they need a break, bathroom or refreshments, or whatever,” a rep for CHS advertiser 1st Security Bank said.

Stevens (Images: CHS)

At Stevens Elementary Wednesday morning, help on the facilities end of things was going to be up to neighbors in the area — though excellent cookies and coffee, and, of course, restrooms were only a short walk away at Volunteer Park Cafe. We’re also told a few families showed up at Stevens for the first day of school Wednesday morning and were surprised to find teachers out on strike.

Meanwhile, the educators at the World School on the Meany Campus at 20th and Thomas were feeling a little lonely with NOVA having already moved back to the Horace Mann building on E Cherry and their picket location’s quiet neighborhood setting. No bother, however, the morning crew resolved to head out for a march through the neighborhood.

Seattle City Council member and District 3 candidate Kshama Sawant announced Wednesday she is donating to a strike fund and will host “a community Meeting with the Coalition for the Schools Seattle Deserves” Thursday night at City Hall.

District 3 challenger Pamela Banks said she, too, stands with SEA. “I proudly support our Seattle teachers,” she writes. “As a lifelong public school advocate, PTSA mom and Garfield High PTSA President, I know how hard our teachers work. Let’s get them the respect they deserve and get these kids back in school!”

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5 years ago

Grant all requests for the children! Recess of at least one hour should be mandatory in my opinion. Give the teachers a decent raise but in return do away with their pension (goto a 401K like everyone else) and switch their health insurance to high deductible plan to save money (like most other businesses) and be able to pay for those raises. Reward the overachievers and fire the underperformers!

5 years ago
Reply to  truth

Yeah, those 401(k)s worked out just swell for the rest us during the recent recession! It’s just another way for Wall Street to get their grubby hands on otherwise protected retirement plans and siphon off as much as they can.