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Seattle Teachers Union Leaders Recommend 'One-Day Strike' Over State Budget Battle

Kyle Stokes
A school bus sits outside Seattle Public Schools' central offices in the SoDo neighborhood.

Seattle teachers will decide whether they want to walk off the job for one day, likely in early May, to express frustration over the progress of state budget talks in Olympia.

Building leaders for the Seattle Education Association, voted Monday night to recommend the union's 5,000 members join at least eight other local teachers unions in western Washington that have already approved similar "one-day strikes."

Members across the district will meet to vote on that recommendation over the next week, Seattle Education Association president Jonathan Knapp said Tuesday.

The union's governing board will then review the results of the vote to decide whether there's enough support for the walkout to go forward. It may take more than a simple majority for the union's board to green-light the walkout, Knapp said.

"It’s about pay, it’s about health care benefits, it’s about compensation, it’s about [cost of living adjustments], it’s about the efforts in the Senate to tie teacher evaluation and student test scores," said Seattle Education Association president Jonathan Knapp. "It’s about the legislature not stepping up and doing their duty."

Teachers in Bellingham and Ferndale, the first to stage "one-day strikes," will walk out Wednesday. Arlington, Blaine, Stanwood-Camano, Sedro-Wooley, Mount Vernon and Lakewood have approved similar protests.

Knapp said there's no specific date being eyed for a possible walkout yet — it wasn't part of building leaders' vote Monday — but said based on the timing alone, the week of May 11 would "make the most sense."

Leaders of both the state House and Senate have proposed between $1.3 billion and $1.4 billion in new spending on K-12 education. Friday is supposed to be the last day of the legislature's session.

Kyle Stokes covers the issues facing kids and the policies impacting Washington's schools for KPLU.