Teachers across Washington state prepare to strike over wages and conditions
25 August 2018
After enduring years of stagnant wages and rising enrollment, teachers and support staff in two districts in the US state of Washington have gone out on strike. School workers throughout most of the state have overwhelmingly authorized strikes if their demands for higher pay and smaller class sizes are not met.
Since May, many school boards in the state have been engaged in negotiations with teacher and support staff unions—almost all affiliates of the Washington Education Association (WEA), the state affiliate of the National Education Association—on contracts for the school year starting in September. The length of teacher contracts is staggered throughout the state to prevent the emergence of unified struggle of school workers statewide for better wages and conditions.
The unions are working to contain the anger of teachers and isolate and suppress any strikes that do break out. In the teachers’ strikes earlier this year—including in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Arizona—the unions worked to shut down opposition and prevent it from developing into a broader movement of teachers and the entire working class.
This year, contracts ended for Seattle, and school workers in most of the state are preparing to strike if their demands are not met. While demands vary from district to district, they generally include the demand that some of the additional education funding mandated by the state Supreme Court be used to provide more training, smaller class sizes, and long-overdue wage increases of at least 15 percent and 37 percent for teachers and support staff, respectively.
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