The situation parents in Kent face is just one of many like it around the state. Schools there are scheduled to start Aug. 30, but the teachers union in Kent is prepared to strike if its salary demands aren’t met – even though teacher strikes are illegal.
Keep in mind, the current Kent contract runs through this upcoming school year. The union is threatening to strike and disrupt the school year despite being under a current contract. Other teacher unions under contract might do the same.
Why? Because the state this year approved more money for teacher salaries, and local unions want to lock in big raises now. They want the large raises now so legislators feel obligated to spend more next year, when local property tax rates are lowered (which was part of the McCleary compromise approved by the state Supreme Court).
It’s a “get while the getting is good” position, with no regard to what districts can afford going forward. The Seattle Times says school districts need to “need to show some backbone” and mustn’t “bargain away money you don’t have.”
This whole high-pressure situation shows the absurdity of setting pay in 295 separate contract negotiations. The state pays for the bulk of school costs and salaries, so it’s time to make the rational move to statewide bargaining.