On Thursday, State Senator John Braun sent a letter to Governor Inslee, Attorney General Ferguson, and State Superintendent Chris Reykdal, calling on the state leaders to engage and intervene in potential teacher strikes in the state. The letter asks the elected officials to actively discourage strikes in Washington and to intervene legally in instances where school staff vote to strike.
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Heading into the final weeks before students head back to class, many school districts across the state are still negotiating teacher contracts. In the 2018 legislative session, lawmakers added about $800 million toward common schools — the majority of which was slated for K-12 salary increases. In some districts, like Shoreline and Ocean Beach, this has meant double digit raises for teachers. In other districts, the ambiguity of the laws passed has meant stalemates between districts and teacher unions. Teachers in some districts, like Battle Ground and Longview, have already voted to strike.
In the letter, Braun writes,
“As statewide elected officials, you share a unique position and responsibility to act, including seeking an injunction to keep our public schools open… In Washington, state and local public employees, including those working in the public school system, do not have a legally protected right to strike. No such right existed at common law, and none has been granted by statute. If our state’s educators are unwilling to perform their work, I ask that you perform your duty to protect and enforce our children’s constitutional right to an education.”
Senator Braun’s full letter can be read here.