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Members of the Seattle Education Association pose in front of one of the city's public school buildings while on strike on September 12, 2022.

Members of the Seattle Education Association pose in front of one of the city's public school buildings on September 12, 2022. (Photo: Seattle Education Association/Twitter)

'Great News': After Strike, Seattle Teachers Approve Three-Year Contract

"We united, took action, and achieved a contract that does more for us and our students," said the Seattle Education Association.

Kenny Stancil

Roughly a week after ending their strike, Seattle Education Association members voted Monday night to approve a three-year contract that includes higher salaries and increased classroom support staff, among other improvements to working and learning conditions.

Well over two-thirds of the union's 6,000 members voted in favor of a new contract with Seattle Public Schools (SPS), yielding three separate pacts covering different categories of employees. Just over 70% of classroom teachers and other certified staff voted for their contract, while 66% of paraprofessionals and 82% of educational office professionals voted for their respective contracts.

"We united, took action, and achieved a contract that does more for us and our students," Seattle Education Association (SEA) tweeted Tuesday. "Thank you to everyone who supported us—our unity made the difference!"

U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), a Seattle resident, applauded the union's successful effort, saying that it brought teachers in the city "so much closer to getting the pay raises and classroom support they deserve."

The strike began on what would have been the first day of this school year, September 7. Five days later, SEA members voted to suspend the strike after union leaders and school district officials reached the tentative agreements that were ratified on Monday. Students started classes last Wednesday.

As The Seattle Times reported Tuesday:

The Seattle School Board still needs to vote on the contract for it to be finalized. If it's not approved, negotiations will likely start again, but Superintendent Brent Jones—who has a background in human resources—said it's rare for a board to vote down a contract.

It's unclear when the board will vote on the contract. The next scheduled board meeting is September 28, and they could hold a special meeting before then.

Teachers, including substitutes, as well as paraeducators and office staff, are all poised to receive annual pay raises of at least 7%, 4%, and 3% over the next three years under the proposed collective bargaining agreements.

The union was also able to win some limits on workloads, including more classroom support staff to maintain teacher-to-student ratios.

Task forces for special education and multilingual education charged with proposing additional improvements in those areas will also be established as part of the deal.

"SEA reaching an agreement with SPS is one step in our united, longer-term fight for the public schools our students and families deserve and the respected, well-compensated jobs educators deserve," the union said in a statement.

"From the November general election to the 2023 legislative session, and to collaborating with community members on task forces, our work doesn't stop," the union continued. "Together we started important conversations about special education and multilingual learning that we need to continue and deepen. SEA has the strength and resolve to push onward, advocating alongside our students, families, and communities."

"Thank you to our incredible SPS families and our communities who stuck with us and supported us through this bargain," the union added. "We should be proud of what we achieved together."

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