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Originally published September 12, 2011 at 8:47 PM | Page modified September 12, 2011 at 8:48 PM

Tacoma teachers vote to strike immediately

Teachers in Tacoma voted overwhelmingly Monday evening in favor of a strike, so after only seven days of school, the 28,000 children in Washington's third-largest school district will stay home Tuesday.

quotes They do not have the legal right to strike. The rank & file believe that if the... Read more
quotes Fire them all. Every last one of them. There's enough people out of work that there... Read more
quotes What's the hurry to get that injunction? Let everyone stay home. Based on Tacoma's test... Read more

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Teachers in Tacoma voted overwhelmingly Monday evening in favor of a strike.

That means that after only seven days of school, the 28,000 children in Washington's third-largest school district will be staying home Tuesday. Tacoma Education Association spokesman Rich Wood said 87 percent of the union's total membership voted to walk out.

Tacoma School District spokesman Dan Voelpel said the district will seek an immediate court injunction Tuesday to terminate the strike, which school officials say is illegal.

Superintendent Art Jarvis will revisit the decision to keep school closed in light of what happens in court, Voelpel said.

Both the Washington attorney general and state judges have ruled that state public employees do not have the right to strike.

Teachers have been working without a contract since Sept. 1. The union negotiated with the district over the weekend, but the two sides failed to agree on a contract proposal.

Issues in dispute include teacher pay, class size and seniority.

A 2006 state attorney general's opinion said state and local public employees — including teachers — do not have a legally protected right to strike.

During several past teacher strikes, school districts have gone to court and judges have issued orders ordering teachers back to work.

Tacoma teachers earned an average salary of $63,793 last year, according to the district.

The News Tribune reported that on the pay issue, the district said Sunday it had offered teachers two options: maintain the current pay schedule and sacrifice pay for one personal day, one individual optional training day and one schoolwide training day; or accept an effective 1.35 percent cut in the salary schedule. In exchange, teachers would be allowed to schedule 2.5 furlough days.

The district said it also offered to keep class size maximums at the current level.

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