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Seattle teachers Walk Off Job

April 23, 1999

SEATTLE (AP) _ Teachers from Seattle and several other school districts walked off the job to protest skimpy pay raises.

The teachers walked out Thursday and called on legislators to work out a satisfactory plan.

About 5,000 gathered at Safeco Field, a new baseball stadium under construction that was made possible after the Legislature called a special session to craft a public-private financing scheme.

``We all know what the Legislature can do when it puts its mind to it,″ elementary school teacher Charles Hasse, a member of the board of the National Education Association, told the gathering. ``We are standing in front of monuments to what they can do.″

After the rally, the teachers boarded about 80 buses for a caravan to Olympia to lobby the Legislature for a 15 percent pay raise _ the amount of buying power teachers say they’ve lost to inflation in the past six years.

Teachers around the state have staged one-day walkouts and several rallies in Olympia over the past several weeks to push for salary increases. There’s been no talk of lengthy teacher work stoppages beyond the one-day protests.

Seattle is the state’s largest district, with about 3,200 teachers and some 47,000 students.

Salaries for starting teachers in Washington are about $23,000 a year, and go up to about $50,000 for veteran teachers with advanced degrees.

Neither Gov. Gary Locke nor the Legislature is proposing anywhere near the 15 percent figure.

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