This is a big week for the state's largest school district as it tries to reach a contract agreement with teachers and other school staff.
The Seattle Education Association set a deadline of this Wednesday to reach a tentative agreement. The union represents almost 6,000 teachers, counselors, office professionals and other school employees.
Michael Tamayo, vice president of the labor group, said members want to receive pay that's similar to districts north of Seattle, such as Mukilteo and Northshore.
“Our primary interest is to remain competitive with our neighboring districts, and we don’t feel that we are,” Tamayo said.
Mukilteo teachers recently approved a three-year agreement with base pay thousands of dollars higher than Seattle teachers currently receive. Mukilteo’s contract sets minimum base pay of $57,000 for a certificated teacher for the coming school year. Seattle’s contract for the 2018-19 school year included minimum base pay of $48,000.
Teachers across the state negotiated sizable bumps in pay last year after the state boosted education funding, and a number of unions went on strike, including in Tacoma, Puyallup and Tukwila.
Seattle's agreement was just for one year, which is why they're back at the bargaining table now. Last year, educators in Seattle received a 10.5 percent pay increase.
Seattle Public Schools spokesman Tim Robinson said the district wants to reach an agreement in time for school to start as scheduled in early September.
“We are actively comparing our salaries to neighboring districts and have every intention of remaining competitive, but we have to balance that against what we can afford and our fiscal responsibility,” he said in an emailed statement.