UPDATE (Jan. 15, 2019) — The Tri-City Herald reports that the Kennewick School District reached a tentative contract agreement with its paraeducators late last week who were headed toward a strike vote. The school employees plan to vote on ratifying the terms of a new contract on Thursday, Jan. 17.
Kennewick Paraeducators seek fair contract, OK strike vote
The following is from Public School Employees of Washington SEIU Local 1948 (PSE):
KENNEWICK (Jan. 11, 2019) — Education Support Professionals (ESPs) from the Kennewick Paraeducators/Cashiers Chapter of Public School Employees of Washington SEIU Local 1948 authorized a strike vote at a union meeting on Jan. 8. The members are urging Kennewick School District to bargain in good faith and negotiate fair, livable wages for the more than 600 paraeducators in the chapter.
“We are devoted to our students, our families, and our community,” said Brandy Strait, a paraeducator at Canyon View Elementary and co-president of the chapter. “All we are asking for is respect and a fair contract from Kennewick School District.”
Paraeducators work with our community’s most vulnerable special needs and behaviorally-challenged students. Often, they care for kids with medical needs so severe that they can’t eat or use the bathroom without full aid from a paraeducator. This is in addition to ensuring that every student receives a quality education.
“We reviewed the district’s ‘best, last, and final offer,’ and it simply does not reflect a livable wage,” Strait said. “Most paraeducators in the Kennewick School District won’t make even $17 an hour during their entire career. Our employer is simply refusing to support us.”
The chapter, which represents paraeducators, cashiers, and licensed practical nurses (LPNs), will hold a vote to decide whether to strike on Jan. 17.
“Our students deserve quality school staff, and our members deserve better than this,” said Strait. “We are asking parents and the public to join us in urging the district to do what’s right.”
Public School Employees of Washington SEIU Local 1948 (PSE) is a labor union dedicated exclusively to representing Education Support Professionals in Washington state’s public education system. Its 30,000-plus members play a vital role in the operation of early learning, K-12 and universities throughout the state.