Tacoma teachers ending 8-day strike, district says
Teachers in Tacoma, Washington, hold picket signs outside a school last week.
September 22nd, 2011
04:39 PM ET

Tacoma teachers ending 8-day strike, district says

Teachers in Tacoma, Washington, have voted to end their eight-day strike, meaning classes will resume Friday for 28,000 students, Tacoma school district spokesman Dan Voelpel said.

A lawsuit that the school district had filed against the teachers' union will be dropped, Voelpel said.

A tentative agreement was reached Wednesday. Contract talks between the school district and union hadfractured over teacher pay, class size and how educators are transferred between schools.

In the deal that teachers accepted Thursday, according to Voelpel, class sizes will remain the same (the union had pushed for smaller class sizes); teachers will not face a pay cut (the district to cut pay by 1.35%); and a joint committee appointed by the district and union will determine how teachers are transferred.

Across Washington, state services cuts are in the works after the governor's office last week said the state is expected to collect $1.4 billion less in revenue between now and June 2013 than previously forecast.

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soundoff (210 Responses)
  1. George McFly

    I like turtles so much anyone else?

    September 22, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Georgia Teacher

    I am a teacher from Georgia which is not a union state. We are "work friendly."I have always been strongly anti-union just as I was brought raised to be. As a teacher I have always believed that a good teacher will never have to worry about their job. Aside from job cuts and issues like that I have always felt confident about my future in a non-union state that has some of the best teacher pay in the nation. Test scores have always been a challenge in a state where the largely rural population has struggled to overcome poverty and traditionally uneducated family roots. Even as a principal who had no tenure and could be told at any time to go home, I never worried. I did become disenchanted with the issues I had to deal with as a principal. and the huge amounts of politics involved. I simply did not like having dirty hands. I made a decision to go back to my real passion and teach, and be very quiet about doing my job.
    Recently my view has changed. The myth of teacher prosperity and security for me has become a nightmare. In Georgia there are teacher organizations that mainly lobby within the state legislature, and provide cheap legal assistance. I went one step further than most of my colleagues and refused to even join them. because who needs legal assistance if you do your job right? My wife is (was) a teacher with tenure. Both of us have always been dedicated to serving children and do so without regard to anyone else's feelings or effort. She was released on allegations that were trumped up by an administration that wanted to attack not only her but our entire family (including our children). Of course I can't go into details, but rest assured the charges made were based on largely fictional information. In Georgia, teachers only believe that they have protection. The reality is that teachers can be attacked and fired without much recourse. In areas that are small, a group of powerful people can charge and defeat you with little evidence. The problem for us was the money to defend the case. The idea that the burden of proof rests on the charges having to be proved against you means nothing if you have no money. Having not been a member of an organization, there was no route to go unless you had money for a lawyer up front. As a former principal, I always checked with the organization representative (who I chose to be in charge of enrollment) to find out if they were a member. If not, no problem. I can feel somewhat assured that my personal dealings were never of such a magnitude as the situation we are now facing. Most of the people I released were non-tenured teachers who have to only be told they are not invited back. No reason is needed. I have come to see the hard facts that it is not hard to come up with make up allegations and a clause called "any other sufficient cause," which is a catch-all but largely not used with tenured teachers.
    The bottom line is there is truly no protection for a teacher who is tenured or not in the state of Georgia. A corrupt system can ruin your name, your reputation and your life. If you are not a member of an organization to at least provide legal support you are doomed. Even if you have the legal support you must contend with being judged by board of education members who are deeply rooted with the decisions that the person's they hired recommended. It can be fought with legal help, but as I said, we are not able to afford that. The chances of winning a deicision are pretty much null. That is another thing principals and superintendents do prior to making a decision to "get rid" of a teacher. I have to be honest that I didn't realize just how powerful those positions can be, but I promise you that if you are a teacher in Georgia and you have crossed the wrong people they will get rid of you if they want to. I am not saying this in a manner of wanting pity, or having anybody actually believe anything about my situation. I am saying that if you teach, you need protection of some kind. Never feel safe or arrogant about you ability to do your job! I am not advocating a union. I still do not believe in striking for pay or incentives. I am talking about the fact that your very livelihood and your family's security is in jeopardy if you ever come under attack. This idea that our society has about the three months off in the summer is not true. We always worked Summer school and volunteered weeks at our school without pay to help kids. All of that is gone now. A huge part of the blame goes to me because I was so gullible to believe the line I was always sold that good teachers are safe. My only hope is that someone will read this and save themselves from the torture that my family is having to go through just because of bad politics. By the way, somebody somewhere in Georgia will probably lose their job just because of this exercise of free speech even if the name is anonymous. Sorry if that is you, but that is a perfect example of how the system operates. Local system grievance procedures are not even known to most teachers in the state, and it is just as well, they are just a carbon copy blurb with the state's strongest legal defense teams which are Brock and Clay, and Harbin and Hartley. They are good, and they can't be beaten. They brazenly advertise their over 90% success rate. Teachers in Georgia need to beware of the myth of the greatness of non-union teacher policies.

    September 22, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • JeramieH

      > The reality is that teachers can be attacked and fired without much recourse.

      Wow, like any other job in a right-to-work state.

      September 22, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      Was it the state of Georgia caught cheating on their Map tests?

      September 22, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boss Hogg

      Do they teach the definition of "concise" in Georgia?

      September 22, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lynn

      sorry but I have worked in the schools for decades and with or without unions there is always a way for some people to get favors and others to get passed over. There are teachers who do not even like children teaching because of the hours, money and pensions. I used to support unions but DO NOT TODAY because teachers who do a VERY POOR JOB or do not even care, know that the unions will protect them. A lot of people still see teachers as they were in the past instead of the money hungry union happy thugs that could care less about teaching the children. teachers of today. This group of Tacoma teachers is a perfect example and that is why are country is at the bottom where education is concerned while we are at the top in wages and money spent on a system that DOES NOT WORK and the poor scores of our children PROVE THIS SYSTEM IS NOT WORKING

      September 22, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • ChazfromUtah

      Hey pal, I work in North Carolina where the Republicans have waged a ruthless war against teachers. We have absolutely no rights in this state, so I am definitely understanding of the situation. North Carolina is perhaps one of the most union hating states you will ever go to.

      September 22, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lynn

      in my response, I did not check it before posting, the word "are" should have been "our"

      September 22, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • kerberusII

      you needed a lawyer, preferably a young one, idealistic and poor who wanted to make a name for himself and to make a lot of money, like j. edwards the presidential candidate. this is how the american culture works, that is every man/woman for themselves. to be anti-union without any supporting rationale is learned position, that is someone pointed out the dark side without elaborating on the side of light and you believed. most americans learn in this manner and stay that way because they do not have access to the education available in the better schools, where the professors present the facts as they understand them, and let the students then make up their own mind. there are few of these type of schools left in america as most schools have abandoned their original reason for being, that is to educate with knowledge of facts and truth regardless of the outcome. the diploma is all that many students want these days and in looking at where the diploma has led the current and prior president, who can blame them. neither of the latter is a bastion of knowledge and leadership (much less honesty and integrity) but there they are, head of the entire country.

      September 22, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Georgia Teacher

      Just want to point out that it was in Atlanta that the test cheating allegations were made, some of which have been substantiated. That doesn't mean that it doesn't happen elsewhere in Georgia, or in the United States, or the world. So.. to my two friends from wherever that decided to use the Georgia jokes, maybe you could find a website where you can joke around about the hicks of the world and have a good gufaw, haha, or whatever. I was talking about the serious issue of people's lives and reputations being totally destroyed. Evidently it is comedy entertainment for some.

      September 22, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Biff McCracken

    Your favorite color cannot be blue because it is my favorite color. Pick another one

    September 22, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Alan

    Teachers in Canada start at $50,000 and go to $90,000. They still b1tch like crazy.

    September 22, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. George

    I'll like to see the Guv'nor take a pay cut

    September 22, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • lolyup

      Fortunately Gregoire has proven that she can put the Fed in front of her state, so she's not running for yet-another term and moving to DC.

      September 22, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mr. Sunshine

    They better not have gotten a raise, they do not deserve them. They are the 5th highest paid teachers in the state. The rest of the districts around the state were given a 1.9% decrease in pay.

    September 22, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lynn

      same thing in Missouri, these teachers were doing exactly the same thing as the Tacoma teachers until the public found out they were the highest paid district in the whole area. Support was no longer there for the teachers, once the public found out what their pay was, which was also a lot higher than most of the taxpayers who were ask to pick up the bill..

      September 22, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Daria Olsen

    American schools are a joke it's like a 12yr daycare


    September 22, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mercy

    Georgia Teacher:
    The plight of teachers is often misunderstood. I am so sorry that your state chooses to put political aspirations over the education of its children. You sound like a very fine teacher who was taught from an early age that hard work and dedication is its own reward. Sadly, you have found out what most people have no idea of: that because of politics, teaching is no longer a respected career, and that teachers are but pawns in a chess game where nobody really wins, and our future generations are the biggest losers.

    September 22, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mercy

    .....And THAT is why there needs to be a checks and balances system in place. The right to work should be named the right for fire at a whim.

    September 22, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Georgia Teacher

      I really hope you didn't mean for that to make any sense at all. If you did, you need to go and kick the crap out of all your teachers. I don't blame you for you lack of respect.

      September 23, 2011 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
  10. banasy©

    @Scottish Mama:
    There was some nefarious activity there concerning test grades; a wonderful by-product of NCLB.

    September 22, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      That's Banasy I thought so. something like 103 teachers.

      September 22, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. funky bunch

    Why do teachers need unions, what do they need protection from?

    September 22, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • ChazfromUtah

      Join the ranks of teaching and find out first hand.

      September 22, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. haywire

    Teachers are working class people like lots of folks. I know many fellow teachers that have huge student loan debt and make a decent salary but can't get out from under. There are teachers that stink. I work with a few, but it is easier to get rid of a teacher than anyone thinks. We had a teacher a couple of years ago that literally slept in class. We tried to get rid of her and it was not because of the union that we failed. It was because human resources bungled their end, not keeping to deadlines. The union rep told her it would be best for her if she resigned. Unions aren't all bad. They do provide protection from unfounded bs that kids and parents with issues (that have nothing to do with school but they need someone to blame)stir up to feel like they accomplished something.

    September 22, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Scottish Mama

    As I have stated in the previous thread that there is an attack on unions by our Missouri Republican representatives. The teachers pensions in our state is put into by the teachers and invested by a firm. The teachers if they never work outside of school they also get Social security. They get reduced Social Security benefits if they only teach for 30 to 50 years. They also have waged war on our firefighters and police. Our elementary school is ranked #1 in the state. There was always parents that worked with the teachers to paint, P.T.O., plant, work with children that were having difficulties in reading, spelling, math or science. We showed up to do the pictures, girl scouts and boy scouts, started baseball, softball, soccer, football, basketball programs for after school and coached them. We clipped, talked and showed the children how important school was. They were union and we support them. Because the lies about unions are everywhere. And the propaganda machine republicans are trying to destroy them. Only 12% in the workforce are unions. Crushing unions does a disservice to our fore fathers and mothers who gave us something great and we are going to loose the last resistance to the the establishment. So the foxes can once again watch the hen house.
    When the government makes another law or statute or amendment keep your eye on their prize because it once belonged to you.

    September 22, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mr. M

    If they were being asked to teach classes of 40+ sudents for 7 classes a day only getting 35k a year...yeah, I'd be sympathetic. But as it stands, my classes are averaged to 35 per at 45k and I'm fine with that. I do my job, I seek means of improving my knowledge of my subject and how to facilitate their curiosity of it, and I enjoy imprinting on them the values of hard work. I can wipe my own @ss and I don't need a union taking my paycheck and telling me I can't work because some schmucks don't like having to bite the bullet and earn their pay. The age of handouts is over, grow a backbone and get to work.

    September 22, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mark Koth

    The school district should have done what Reagan did with Air Traffic Controllers. The problem would have been solved instantly.

    September 22, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
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