Just weeks after the legislature approved one of the largest increases in K-12 public education spending in state history, union executives in the Pasco School District are demanding an 11% pay raise or they’ll recommend teachers strike against children and families.
The Pasco Association of Educators says the $2.3 million in extra salary and benefits that it’s being offered by the Pasco School District for the next school year isn’t enough. It wants another $15 million – including an 11% pay hike for all teachers – or it will go on strike after its contract expires August 31st.
Because the union refuses to budge, the school district has requested a mediator be brought into the negotiations.
Families are now anxiously watching the fight play out, and the start of the school year hangs in the balance.
As the negotiations continue, there are five things every parent should know:
- It is illegal for teachers to strike in Washington state. (RCW 41.56.120) In fact, every Superior Court injunction to date has called teacher strikes “illegal.”
“Defendants are engaged in an illegal strike against the district.” – 1978 Seattle http://archive.myfreedomfoundation.com/docLib/1978strike.pdf
“The MEA strike violates the prohibition on public employee strikes and is an illegal strike.” – 2003 Marysville http://archive.myfreedomfoundation.com/docLib/injunction.pdf
“As public employees, the defendants have no protected right to strike under Washington law, and are currently engaged in an illegal strike against the District.” – 2009 Kent http://archive.myfreedomfoundation.com/docLib/Kent_strike_2009.pdf
- The Pasco Association of Educators would be in violation of its own contract, which prohibits a strike:
“SECTION 5: NO STRIKE/NO LOCKOUT During the term of this Contract there shall be no strike or other economic action by the Association and no lockout or other economic action by the District.”
- WPC’s 2011 Key Facts on Pasco Public Schools showed average teacher pay with benefits in Pasco is $73,962 for a ten-month work year.
Fifty three Pasco public school employees receive more than $100,000 a year. In the 2014-15 school year, state figures show Pasco teacher pay with benefits rose to $77,754. This compares quite favorably to the average annual wage of $35,329 for citizens who live in Franklin County.
- The 2014 State Board of Education Achievement Index shows 16 of Pasco School District’s 19 schools get no better than a Fair or “D” grade when ranked for quality. Eleven schools received an F or F-. In total, 7,800 students attend schools in the Pasco School District that are underperforming.
- Recently, in response to the 2012 McCleary court decision, the Legislature dramatically increased funding for the schools. Since 2012 the state has increased funding for K-12 schools by nearly $5 billion—from $13.4 billion to $18.2 billion, or nearly $2,500 more per student. The size of this increase is huge and historic. Legislators have delivered the highest percentage of the state budget in 30 years – 48% – to public schools.
Should union executives insist that teachers break the law, violate their contract and hurt families in Pasco, the Pasco School Board should be prepared to seek an injunction the moment they vote to strike.
In calling the strike, union executives will seek to deny access to education for students. Their strike action would disrupt families, divide people in the community and, most importantly, close the schoolhouse doors to children who are seeking a better life through education.
Chris Cargill ([email protected]) is the Eastern Washington Director at the Washington Policy Center.
An earlier version of this article appeared at http://www.washingtonpolicy.org/blog/post/pasco-teachers-union-threatens-illegal-strike-%E2%80%93-five-things-every-parent-should-know. Reprinted with permission.