Seattle teachers strike because the economy is too good

Teachers going on strike is nothing new. In some years, depending on how strongly the unions are feeling their oats, it can seem more common for them to be on the picket line than in the classroom. But as excuses for strikes go, the teachers in the greater Seattle area have come up with one which may be somewhat unique in the history of labor relations. Things are going too well in their area making it more expensive to live. (Fox News)

Washington state’s largest school district and the teachers union remain at an impasse over pay raises, teacher evaluations and other issues.

The educators, who have not received a cost-of-living pay raise in six years, have joined other workers pushing for higher wages that compete with the city’s growing, highly paid tech workers.

Olga Addae, a science teacher at Franklin High School, walked the picket line Thursday with other union members who said they will stay out of the classroom until the district offers a fair compensation package and agrees to stop cutting student services.

“We’re doing this for the students and for a better school system,” said Addae, a teacher of 21 years.

The same teacher interviewed for the article notes that with an influx of higher paid, tech sector workers, rents have finally begun to go back up as people move back to the area. Her observations that, rents continue to rise while educators’ salaries have stagnated may indeed be true but their profession is hardly unique in that regard. In case they haven’t noticed, pretty much nobody was getting a pay raise during the first six years of the Obama economy. But, yes, when the economy begins to turn around and more people can afford to live in a given area, demand will drive up costs. That’s sort of how the entire system is designed to work.

But it’s not as if they’re living on Spam. The district lists the pay rates for local teachers as ranging from $44K to nearly $100k depending on experience. I lived in the area many years ago and still have friends there. The cost of living isn’t as dirt cheap as remote rural areas, but it’s nowhere near most of the major metropolitan centers. $44K as a starting salary for a job where you get a summer vacation really isn’t all that shabby. And after you move up the chain a ways, well… let’s just say there are a lot of people who would give their eye teeth to be making more than $80K.

This started last week before the scheduled school year began. The kids are still waiting for classes to begin and the union is offering new and innovative demands as the talks stretch through the weekend. (Seattle Times)

Negotiations between Seattle Public Schools and the striking teachers union will continue Sunday with a new offer by the school district to set aside funds to compensate teachers for a proposed extended school day.

The district previously proposed adding 20 minutes to the school day starting in the 2017-18 school year, but the union opposed any increase without addtional pay for the extra work time.

Making the school day 20 minutes longer is one of the major hardships? Professional, salaried positions generally come with an expectation that you work well beyond the minimum eight hours called for from hourly workers. I can’t wait to see what their other demands wind up being. But in the meantime, waiting is all that the students and the parents will be doing. Mark this up as another fine hour for the unions.

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