Seattle Teachers Urged by Union to Ratify Accord
Union leaders are recommending that Seattle teachers end their 3 1/2-week-old walkout, the largest school strike in the nation, by voting today to ratify a one-year contract that will add $3.6 million to the school district’s labor costs.
Elsewhere, strikes by 2,260 teachers continued in Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Jersey, keeping more than 34,000 students at home.
John Cahill, spokesman for the Seattle Teachers Assn., said of Friday’s action: “We think it (the agreement) is a good one. We’re wholeheartedly recommending” ratification. If the contract is ratified, teachers would return to work Monday and classes for the city’s 43,500 students could start Tuesday, Cahill said.
Class Size Key Issue
The longest school strike in Seattle’s history began Sept. 3, the day before classes were to begin, when 3,700 teachers, aides and secretaries walked off the job in a dispute that centered on class size.
The tentative agreement, reached Thursday night in Olympia after Gov. Booth Gardner intervened in negotiations, contains $8.4 million in wages and benefits, up from $4.8 million last year, said district spokeswoman Marsha Leslie.
Of that, $3 million is intended to reduce classroom workloads, she said. The contract also provides three additional work days for staff at more than $200 a day.
T. J. Vassar, school board president, also praised the agreement. “It’s a win for the teachers, for the school board, for the students and for the parents,” he said.
In Toronto, Ohio, teachers and the school board agreed on a plan Friday that will reopen schools Monday and send unresolved contract issues to binding arbitration, Supt. Gino Quatrrochi said.
Schools opened for the district’s 1,200 students on Aug. 27, but closed eight days later when the 70 teachers walked out.