Seattle Teachers Secure Tentative Deal To End Strike After ‘Enormous Community Support’
Seattle teachers on Monday night expressed gratitude for "solidarity on the picket lines" and "enormous community support" that they received over the past week while on strike, as the city's teachers union announced it had reached a tentative agreement with the school district.
The Seattle Education Association (SEA) said it had secured a new three-year contract including improved and maintained teacher-student ratios for special education classes, additional mental health staffing across all schools, and annual pay raises.
"We should all be proud of what we accomplished and what we stood up for: student supports and respect for educators," said the SEA. "We made real progress not only in our contract but also in rallying with our community these past several weeks."
The school district said it would announce on Tuesday when classes are now set to begin.
SEA members overwhelmingly voted last week to go on strike, demanding raises particularly for lower-paid educators and school office staff, new limits on workload and class sizes, and more support for students in multilingual and special education.
Shortly before the deal was reached, Seattle substitute teacher Jeanine Calceta recorded a video thanking community members for their support on picket lines during the strike.
"One of the most remarkable things that I've seen on the picket lines is how much attention we've gained nationwide and how much support we've gained from our family and community members," said Calceta.
Melissa DiLorenzo, the mother of a high school student in the city, told the Associated Press that both she and her son had joined teachers to walk the picket lines and expressed dismay with the earlier contract proposals put forward by Seattle Public Schools.
"Maybe it's because of Covid—parents have a newfound appreciation for what teachers go through," DiLorenzo told the AP. "I would like to see the district listen to educators about what they need in the classroom—I would like to see mental health supports in place, in the form of counselors, social workers, nurses."
The union also garnered support from federal lawmakers including Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).
"This contract negotiation is one more step (albeit an important one!) along our years- and even decades-long journey to achieve the schools we all deserve," said the SEA. "After two incredibly difficult years impacted by Covid and so much more, it is beautiful to know that the community love and support for educators and our public schools is as strong as ever."
"We can and must continue to connect and rally with our communities for the schools our students deserve," the union added, "whether locally or down in Olympia."
Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams.