Union talks pay raises with Spokane Public Schools, doesn’t expect teacher strike

Union talks pay raises with Spokane Public Schools, doesn’t expect teacher strike

Summer is winding down, but salary negotiations between the Spokane Education Association and Spokane Public Schools are ramping up.

A state Supreme Court decision in 2012, known as the McCleary ruling, found Washington state was underfunding schools and called for fully-funded education by 2018. Between the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions, a total of $2 billion was designated for teacher salaries, according to SEA president Katy Henry.

Salary negotiations then move to the local level — for unions and districts to negotiate.

Of that $2 billion, Henry told KXLY4 nearly $30 million was put aside for educators’ salaries in Spokane — $22.2 million for certificated staff including psychologists, counselors and teachers and $7.7 million for classified staff, made up of custodians, secretaries and those working in nutrition.

Henry said a total of 3,400 members make up the Spokane Education Association. The union is represented by a bargaining team of 28 educators, who want to make sure that $29.9 million goes towards teacher salaries.

The union hosted a rally in support of its bargaining team and its push for salary increases Tuesday.

The bargaining team has met with the district four times so far to talk pay raises, according to Henry.

The union has submitted two proposals and the district offered a counter-proposal. The two groups are scheduled to meet Thursday, where the district is expected to offer its second counter-proposal.

Brian Coddington with Spokane Public Schools said the talks have been going well.

“It’s been a very good, cordial discussion. There’s more work to be done,” Coddington said. “We’ll meet again later this week to see if they can close that gap. There’s a lot of discussion to be had still.”

Linda Mullen with the Washington Education Association said some unions across the state have taken a strike authorization vote — meaning the union votes to give its bargaining team authority to call a teacher strike.

Henry told KXLY the Spokane Education Association is “nowhere near” calling for a strike authorization vote. She said the SEA does not anticipate a strike.

If the SEA and SPS eventually come to a tentative agreement, the union will vote on it at its next general meeting on August 28. The first day of class for Spokane Public Schools is August 30.