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With 93% rejecting contract offer, Longview teachers STRIKE

UPDATE (Aug. 28, 2018) — SEIU Local 925 members who work in the Longview School District have voted to strike in solidarity with Longview teachers. These members — who work as paraeducators and in transportation, nutrition services, custodial crews, maintenance, and other key positions — voted 94% to go on strike.

“We stand with our teachers,” said Goldie Valentine, chapter president for SEIU 925 in the Longview School District. “We won’t let the district divide us. Quality education for kids means we all stand together.”

It is the first official strike by an SEIU 925 chapter since 2001. SEIU 925 classified and instructional staff join the LCPEA administrative assistants in striking with teachers.

UPDATE (Aug. 27, 2018) — The Longview teachers strike continues. On Monday night, the Longview School Board will meet at 6:30 p.m. at the R.A. Long High School cafeteria. All union members, parents and community supporters are urged to attend and show your solidarity with the teachers demanding real raises.

LONGVIEW (Aug. 23, 2018) — In a possible preview of what’s to come statewide in school districts that refuse to pass on state money intended to boost teacher salaries, teachers in Longview have voted overwhelmingly to go on strike effective this morning. Fully 93 percent of the members of the Longview Education Association voted to strike Wednesday night after rejecting the district’s latest contract offer.

Longview teachers at Wednesday night’s strike vote. (LEA Facebook page).

Although classes are not scheduled to begin in Longview until next Wednesday, Aug. 29, today was scheduled to be an in-service day. Instead, teachers will be on the picket line and will not be participating in district trainings and other school activities until they get a fair contract. A school district spokesman told The Daily News that negotiations will resume on Monday “and we look forward to a positive resolution.”

School districts across Washington state negotiating new contracts with their teachers after the State Legislature boosted school funding by another $1 billion this year in response to the McCleary lawsuit, which found that the state was not meeting its obligation to sufficiently fund public education. Most of that new money — $776 million — was earmarked to improve teacher salaries, a specific directive of that state Supreme Court order. This money comes in addition to incremental education funding increases approved in recent years.

Many school districts across the state have stepped up and negotiated new contracts giving teachers significant double-digit wage increases, as intended. For example, Bellevue teachers will get an average increase of 17.3 percent, Sedro Woolley 17.7 percent, Toppenish 18.3 percent, and in Skykomish 28.7 percent. (See the Washington Education Association’s pay raise map for more.)

But in Longview, the school board has only offered 6.9 percent, after initially proposing raises of just 4 percent. So its educators have decided to strike until they get an acceptable contract offer.

LEA members at an Aug. 21 rally outside a bargaining session. (LEA Facebook page.)

A statement posted by the LEA Wednesday night reads:

The members of the Longview Education Association turned out in large numbers and overwhelmingly supported a work stoppage (strike) to begin on Thursday, 8/23. Educators will not be participating in district trainings or meetings this week and will remain out until an acceptable contract resolution is reached. Compensation is the primary issue. LEA firmly believes that money coming to the district because of the McCleary decision is to be used for educator compensation. In addition, LEA and its members are appalled that the district continues to refuse to bargain with LCPEA and SEIU, which support of certified staff and more importantly, our students. It is our hope that the district returns to the table and gets serious about treating all educators fairly.

The union says this morning that members of the Longview Classified Public Education Association (LCPEA) and SEIU Local 925 who work in Longview schools are honoring their picket lines this morning. The LEA is thanking those union members, plus other Longview area unions and businesses, for expressing their solidarity and support today. Visit the LEA Facebook page for the latest.

Meanwhile, teachers unhappy with similar substandard contract offers in several districts across the state have voted to authorize strikes if an agreement is not reached by the first day of school. Classes are scheduled to begin next week in some districts and after Labor Day in others. Stay tuned to The Stand for the latest in these contract struggles

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