Most Washington Teachers Vote To End Strike With AM-School Bankruptcy, Bjt
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) _ Most of 20,000 striking teachers voted Monday to end a walkout that kept 300,000 students out of class since April 18.
In all but three of the 32 affected school districts, Washington Education Association members accepted union leaders’ recommendations and voted to return to work, Teresa Moore of the state organization said Monday night. Teachers in the other three districts planned to vote again Tuesday morning.
Classes were scheduled to resume Tuesday for more than 80 percent of the affected students, including those in Seattle, with 41,200 students, and Tacoma, with 28,000 students.
In Seattle, teachers in the state’s largest school district voted 1,263-1,045 to suspend the walkout, said Reese Lindquist, president of the Seattle Teachers Association.
Earlier in the day, the statewide union recommended that teachers return to work, but promised the walkout will resume if the Legislature failed to meet teachers’ demands for more funding.
″A return to our classrooms does not spell an end to our fight. The battlefield has simply shifted,″ WEA President Carla Nuxoll said in a statement.
She said strike activities will continue during non-working hours.
The teachers seek higher pay, smaller class sizes, more school construction and supplies, and better long-term education funding.
The WEA announced Sunday it would call off the strike affecting about 300,000 of Washington’s 800,000 public school students only if the Legislature went into immediate special session Monday.
Democratic Gov. Booth Gardner and House Republicans, in the minority in that chamber, teamed up to force the Legislature to take what could be a break of several weeks, saying the two sides needed a cooling-off period.
On Monday, after it was clear the Legislature wouldn’t begin a special session, the WEA urged teachers to suspend the strike. Ms. Moore said there was no reason to continue picketing without the Legislature in session.
The Legislature sets minimum teacher salaries and controls the education budget.
Sunday was the last day of the Legislature’s 105-day regular session.
The Legislature is scheduled to meet June 15 to consider the governor’s proposed $15.5 billion state budget.
The WEA is seeking $100 million more than the Senate’s proposed $7.2 billion for schools, which is $200 million more than Gardner’s plan and about $140 million more than the House offered.
Teachers in Bellevue, a 15,000-student district near Seattle, voted Sunday to return to work Monday. Superintendent Don O’Neil said some high schools would hold Saturday classes May 18 and June 1 so they can finish the school year by June 28.