Aug 29, 2007

Bethel on strike; school delayed indefinitely

This is a shout-out to the striking teachers in Bethel, who will hit the pavement to picket tomorrow after yesterday's bargaining breakdown.
Classes had been set to resume Thursday, but schools will remain closed at least through the end of the week, according to the notice. About 1,050 teachers and 18,000 students are affected.

In a notice posted on the school district's Web site, School Superintendent Tom Siegel said the Bethel Education Association gave strike notice last night.

"The Bethel Education Association informed the district late Tuesday Aug. 28 that their members were on strike," the posting said.

"We are hopeful that negotiations will continue over the weekend with the goal of opening school as soon as possible," Siegel wrote, adding that the school district had presented the last offer and was waiting for a response.

Both sides are at odds over compensation, workload and health care benefits. The district said their latest offer increased total compensation [by] 6.5 [and] 6.9 percent under terms of a two-year contract.
Here's hoping for a swift and reasonable resolution. No one likes a strike--teachers least of all.

Update 9/1: After a hard day's negotiation, still no resolution.
Tuesday is the earliest classes could begin, but that now looks unlikely.

Cruver says even if a proposed deal was reached soon, some vacationing teachers would not be able to see it until their return home on Monday.

"We have a 24-hour time for people to look at those contracts," Cruver said. "You know how thick they are and how much there is, so we are hopeful things can start as soon as possible as soon as we reach a tentative agreement, if that is even possible at this point."

The district says it will notify parents by phone Sunday evening at the latest.
That's Bethel EA president Tom Cruver. From his speech to the union, given this past May:
We care about these issues because they are our issues. Your yes vote today tells the district that you support our bargaining team. We want the district to quit stalling and we want a fair and equitable contract before school begins next fall. Our numbers empower our bargaining team to obtain a breakthrough contract.
They voted yes. Just how close they are to the breakthrough remains to be seen.


Ryan said...

Here's hoping for a speedy and just resolution!

Dr Pezz said...

I just don't believe in strikes (even though I'm on my local union's exec. board). I wish they would simply work their hours until change occurs. This may be naive but would at least show people what is actually paid for.

Jim Anderson said...

I've done work-to-contract, combined with an after-school march on the district office. Heck, it's why this blog got started in the first place. I agree that work-to-contract is preferable to a strike.

That said, legally, Washington State's AG might not make a distinction, based on Rob McKenna's description of "similar concerted interruption of operations by employees" as equally unprotected by state law.