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Tacoma, Wash., teachers strike could end Friday

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Striking teachers in Tacoma, Wash., could be back at work Friday under a tentative agreement reached after Gov. Christine Gregoire called both sides into her office and pressured them to end the walkout.

The deal, set for a ratification vote by teachers at midday Thursday, would end the strike that began Sept. 13 and provide relief for thousands of working parents who have expressed increasing frustration with the labor dispute.

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The two sides have been divided primarily over the district’s plan to use factors other than simple seniority in deciding where to assign teachers. Pay and class size also have been sticking points.

‘I’m pleased that a tentative agreement was reached tonight and that kids will be back in school on Friday,’ Gregoire said in a statement. ‘This agreement provides a long-term solution, meets the district’s needs and ensures teachers remain proud to report to their classroom every day.’

The district’s 1,900 teachers have been defying a court order directing them to return to work, and a judge next week was going to consider authorizing the district to hire replacement workers.

In a brief statement on its website Thursday morning, the Tacoma Education Assn. directed its members not to report to the picket lines, but also not to show up at work pending the ratification vote.

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-- Kim Murphy in Seattle


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