Sunday, August 26, 2018

Seattle Schools v. Seattle Education Association; Who's Bluffing?

Earlier today, I updated the thread on the teachers contracts around the state.  (FYI, in case you didn't realize it, ALL the districts in the state - because of the revisions due to McCleary - had to renegotiate their teachers contracts.  Hence the heavy activity.)

But I was over at Facebook and the district HAS issued this statement:
Scheduled negotiations between the Seattle Education Association (SEA) and Seattle Public Schools (SPS) ended Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018, without a tentative agreement. The hard working joint team has made good progress on many issues of common interest and on the difficult budget and compensation issues that confront us in Seattle Public Schools. 

The team is close to a tentative agreement that provides competitive and sustainable salaries for our educators, while confronting the realities of the district's significant revenue shortfall in 2019-20. 
Read a district budget update from Aug. 2, 2018.
We have openly shared our financial and budget analysis with the joint team since June as we worked together on every data request and budget detail underlying the compensation discussions. 

We believe our partnership with SEA in this process will lead to the very best educational outcomes for our students and families, including eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps. SEA has assured us that they will return to the negotiations on Wednesday morning; however, we have requested that SEA return to the negotiations immediately. 

Our expectation is that an agreement will be reached before school starts on September 5, 2018.
SEA yesterday:
No agreement tonight. Today was our last scheduled meeting. We'll vote on a strike authorization and action plan on Tuesday night at our Membership Meeting.
So, would SEA vote to strike when the district is still wanting to come to the table on Wednesday?  Why give up so soon or is the district not being willing to give and take?


Anonymous said...

It’s a vote to strike IF there is no TA in place by September 5th. So, yes SEA will still be negotiating with SPS. SEA has a general meeting on Tuesday where they will update everyone and vote to strike if no agreement is reached before the start of school. No one has given up yet.


Salary Comparison said...

Washington's 10 largest school districts. Tacoma and Seattle teacher salary above state average:


Anonymous said...

Any calculation of salary should include the full package of benefits - insurance, paid vacation, summers off, sick leave, etc. It's essentially 9 months of work, not 12 months. This applies to most teaching professionals - not just K-12, but college and university too.

- Caphill Parent

Anonymous said...

The Salary schedules for Seattle Teachers that were in effect last year can be found here:


Arguably, Seattle is the most expensive city in the state in terms of cost of living, so it seems reasonable to give teachers a comparable wage to those in Shoreline, Edmonds, Lake Washington, Isaquaah etc. As it is, the salaries for SPS teachers are not competitive. John Stanford Center Staff increases and construction costs, I believe, may be the reason why our district struggles to raise teacher pay and refuses to fund smaller classrooms.

Anonymous said...

Is the focus of the negotiations on right-sizing the salaries of entering teachers?

It seems that mid to senior teachers cannot claim the same vulnerability, by a long shot.


Checking Numbers said...

Edmonds is running their district down the path of financial ruin.

Construction costs are not in the operating budget.

Before arguing that Seattle needs to offer comparable wages to Shoreline Edmonds etc., I need to see side by side comparisons because Seattle is presently one of the highest paying districts in the state.

I would like to see costs of full benefit packages which includes insurance costs etc.

Looking at Base = TRI:

A 15% raise would put a teacher with 10 years experience at $82K per year. A teacher with 12 years experience and a 15% raise would be at $92K per year...plus benefits and summers off. According to SEE, the union would negotiate ANOTHER contract NEXT year!! Seriously?!!

Here is Seattle's pay scale:


Seattle predicts cost of running district will increase from $930M- $1030M (!!!) in a few years. I want to see a breakdown of these costs.


Checking Numbers said...

Clarification: Looking at Base + TRI

Checking said...

Edmonds created a non=sustainable budget:

"The Edmonds contract and a few others have spawned bipartisan concern among legislative budget writers. Senate Ways and Means Chair Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, and ranking Republican member John Braun of Centralia both are sounding an alarm." Seattle Times

“If we are going to step up to that amount for everyone, we are looking at another McCleary situation with billions and billions of dollars statewide,” Rolfes said Friday.

In short, errors have been made. Seattle has an obligation to create a sustainable budget.

Anonymous said...

Hey Christine - you already have "another McCleary situation" because you never properly solved the original situation.

So yeah, you're still looking at billions and billions of dollars statewide.

Deal with it.

Delridge Dad

Stevens D. said...

I'm confused about what teachers would be striking for. I've heard all of these:
1) wage increase
2) social justice issues
3) full funding for McCleary

But not really any details. Obviously we need number 3 and it would be great if teachers helped go to bat for kids on that one. As for 1 and 2, I'm scratching my head. What do teachers want? And can districts afford to give it to them? And if they do this year, can they afford to give it to them next year? Hope someone's planning to explain.

Checking Numbers said...

There is no plan, Stevens D.

As Tumwater teachers make demands, administrators warn of impending deficits. No visible source of funding in sight.

Senate Ways and Means Chair Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island “We didn’t come out of the session saying everybody gets a raise,” said Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, the lead Senate budget writer and one of those negotiating education policy bills. “We said every district will get more state money.”

WEA and local unions have yet to admit that double digit demands are pushing some districts underwater.

There are 200 open contracts. Classroom cuts should be expected.

Anonymous said...

The raises are calculated for certified teachers (those with a teaching degree) as a percentage of the base. Since about 40% of a teacher's pay is the Tri-pay supplement, a 15% raise is closer to 8% raise on the total.

The median salary in Seattle is 61,000. It will take a teacher with a BA and a masters degree 5 years to make 61,000 thousand. In that time the cost of living will have gone up, currently it is the 12th highest city COL in the country. (one site said 10th highest). Some % of the Health and other benefits are deducted from each paycheck, perhaps 35%. So the take home pay with/after benefits and pension could be about $50,000, assuming some dependents. That is not very competetive after five years of teaching.

The average Seattle Teacher salary quoted above could be a reflection of the fact many teachers have worked 15 years or more, perhaps? But it is still the case that newer-to-the-district teachers deserve a living wage.

- Ballard mom

SEA posted a statement last week as they entered negotiations

Anonymous said...

" It will take a teacher with a BA and a masters degree 5 years to make 61,000 thousand."

Just as a comparison of area salaries, staff who manage multiple programs, and provide other specialized services with lots of job duties at UW with between 10-20 years experience are making the same (between 60-65,000) salaries. These jobs require a Masters at a minimum and many in those positions hold doctorates. Professors make much more at UW, but there are many highly educated people with years of experience in higher education making even less money than SPS teachers.

Checking said...

It is clear to me- based on Senator Christine Rolf's comments- that the state did not fund double digit raises. Some districts are offering large raises and acknowledge that their budgets are not sustainable. Ridiculous.

Health care and pension increases will be an ongoing concern:

"Lost in the discussion involving the new funding model and how to spend the net new money are significant benefit and pension contribution increases – increases that are becoming unsustainable. To truly achieve basic education funding, the state formulas need to address rising health benefit costs and pension contributions in addition to funding competitive wages.
For example, the state is adopting a new health benefits policy that seeks to drive more affordable health coverage for employees and their families. While we applaud the Legislature’s efforts, there will be significant cost increases to districts as they work to fund the new policy structure. These cost increases are unsustainable without additional funding from the state and/or without using some of the net new money to offset the associated budget impact."


After watching this debacle, I now support open contract negotiations.

Anonymous said...

If McCleary was for the state to pay all teacher salary costs, and the goal of equity, why wouldn't the whole state be on a fixed teacher salary scale? In terms of equity, I think a fixed state scale is the only way to go.
Five things I think should adjust base teacher pay: Years experience, education level, local cost of living, geographical desirability of location, and lastly and missing in the current pay system, desirability of building/more pay for teaching at low SES schools.
The local bargaining basically erodes statewide equity, and years of work in the courts and legislature towards that goal.


Unknown said...

Melissa, you wrote: "So, would SEA vote to strike when the district is still wanting to come to the table on Wednesday? Why give up so soon or is the district not being willing to give and take?"

Here's why: Janus vs AFSCME.

The union is trying to show that it's relevant, muscular, and can bring home the red meat for its membership before we start getting the idea that our dues are wasted on far-left political agendas and electing Democrats. And the Democrats want to hand that win to the WEA and SEA because their re-elections are supported by the unions' abilities to round up votes.

That's also part of why there was so much strike activity this past spring.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Unknown, interesting, thanks.

Anonymous said...

So are Bellevue, Shoreline, Edmunds, Issaquah, etc better financially managed than Seattle and can afford the hit from the teacher raises? Does Seattle know something the others don't? Or is the truth somewhere in the middle?

Anonymous said...

Edmonds is projected to be 8 figures in deficit after a year of those salaries, so I don't think they are better managed. The others are a bit better managed, but they are also paying non certified employees much less to make room for those big teacher salaries.

I think if we agree to those salaries, we're agreeing to enormous class sizes and RIFs in 2019, so I can't support striking to get them.

No school?

Anonymous said...

Just for an easy comparison of teacher salary, as of right now, going by our previous contract, I am scheduled to make $63,000 as a teacher in my 7th year. My same time and education in Shoreline will make $87,000. That is just how insane the difference between our salaries will be.

Anonymous said...

Most districts offering large raises did not meet the K-3 class reduction targets. Seattle did. So that means more staff were hired to comply with the law.

What we, the teachers, are finding is that the formula adopted by the legislature specifically targets districts who sued the state, specifically targets ares that are politically 'blue', and specifically under funds urban areas to increase non-urban districts.

This is a masterful hit job and not a product of ignorance or incompetence. How do you win a supreme court case and then not get the significant raises you won in the lawsuit? Ridiculous.

Theo Moriarty

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks, Theo

Unknown said...

Amen Theo. Unions are so poorly understood, as such easy to poke at. Teachers are looking to get by—not get rich. Olympia will have to manipulate the arrangement. Essentially they offered a lump sum— for salaries. It’s not right and will not stand.