Puyallup teachers vote to go on strike
Puyallup teachers vote to go on strike
Posted on 08/30/2018
teachers on strike

The Puyallup Education Association has voted in support of a work stoppage beginning Wednesday, September 5 if a tentative contract agreement is not reached.
Union members rejected the district’s offer of $8.7 million in new on-going financial commitment to provide a six percent raise in teacher salaries in addition to other added compensation.
“Over the past three years, Puyallup teachers have received a 16.1 percent pay raise,” said Superintendent Tim Yeomans. “The districts offer would result in an increase of more than 22.1 percent over the past four years not including annual step increases.”
“We believe our proposal is sustainable,” Yeomans continued. “Because of the foresight of Puyallup’s Board of Directors we are financially able to offer what we believe is a substantial raise despite the risk factors working against us.”
Risk factors
Dr. Yeomans references risk factors as outlined by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). Puyallup School District is one of 295 across Washington State, and finds itself among 22 with financial limitations on their ability to provide salary increases consistent with various settled collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) in other Washington State school districts.
According to State Superintendent Chris Reykdal, “There are some contracts that are coming out and really significant increases for teachers and the districts have resources. There are other districts who just simply didn’t get that kind of resource and it’s going to get a little bit tense over the next couple weeks as that becomes a reality.” Scott, Hanna (2018, August 15). Superintendent asks for patience amid potential teacher strikes, and districts figure out funding. Retrieved from http://mynorthwest.com/1081795/reykdal-teacher-strikes-funding-2018/?
Along with the 21 other school districts, Puyallup is facing all four risk factors: 
1. They were already paying average teacher salaries very near, or above the new state average salary allocation.
2. Their average 2018-19 state allocation for teacher salaries is less than the average teacher salary paid for 2017-18.
3. They did not qualify for a four percent experience factor increase for the 2019-20 year.
4. They are losing 50 percent or more of their local voter-approved levy when the new levy thresholds kick in for calendar year 2019.
In Puyallup, the details include the following:
1. The state’s new minimum salary is $43,206. The Puyallup School District is currently providing a beginning compensation of $47,062 for a 187-day contract and includes the following:  - Time, Responsibility, & Incentive (TRI) package. TRI is one way of recognizing the many hours teachers spend outside of their 7.5 hour day grading papers and planning lessons. - Five Supplemental Days and two Professional Development Days - Materials stipend to assist with classroom supplies 2. The average 2018-19 state allocation for teacher salaries is $71,711 which is $2,183 less than the average actual total final salary for a teacher in Puyallup which is currently $73,894. 3. Because Puyallup School District’s average teacher experience and advanced degrees is lower than the state-wide ratio, the district did not receive the additional four percent factor increase for the 2019-20 year. 4. The final factor impacting the Puyallup budget is a loss of 58.04 percent levy capacity. According to the OSPI, Puyallup’s total funding increase as of fiscal year 2019-20 will net $14.5 million which provides much less flexibility in providing raises than, for example Lake Washington School District, whose funding increase is $82.6 million.
These factors create inequities across the state leading to variations in salary raises being offered from district to district.
Impact on students and families
Because PEA members have voted to support a strike, school may not begin as scheduled on Wednesday, September 5.
“This is very disappointing,” said Chief Human Resources Officer Amie Brandmire. “Bargaining discussions have been quite positive. Members of each team have been mutually respectful and collegial. We have tentatively agreed to many changes in contract language.”
“There’s a great deal of misinformation circulating about the district’s financial status and state funding,” said Brandmire. “We can’t compete with what other district’s are offering because we aren’t funded equally.”
The Puyallup School District has offered competitive salaries for several years and will make every effort to stay competitive. “We have a wonderful relationship with our teachers and want to provide significant increases while also ensuring sustainability,” said Brandmire.
“We value our teachers and we value our students and families,” says Superintendent Tim Yeomans. “Sustainability is something we are all working on here, not just for the 1,350 people represented by PEA, but for the 2,300 other employees as well. The reality is this is a complex problem and we want to do the very best we can for everybody - teachers, other employees, for our kids. However, we simply cannot offer a double-digit pay raise given our financial limitations.”
“Where the discrepancies in the McCleary decision has left us in the state of Washington is not optimal - not ideal - not really fair - but it is what it is. And that’s what we have to deal with. So we will continue to do the very best we can. We will not commit to something we can’t sustain.”
“We realize the teachers’ decision to go on strike, if implemented, would have an enormous impact on students and families. We will continue to bargain in good faith moving forward,” concluded Dr. Yeomans. photo credit: Brad Perkins / CC-BY-SA-2.0