Seattle teachers vote to ratify the tentative agreement

SEATTLE, Wash. -- Seattle’s teacher strike is officially in the past after Sunday night’s vote to ratify the contraction with 83 percent of teachers voting “yes.”

An estimated 3,000 teachers turned out for the vote, which is more than a thousand that turned up at Benaroya Hall earlier this month when teachers unanimously voted to strike, according to Seattle Education Association Vice President Phyllis Campano.

With their signs and their chant, supporters like Paula Curran and her daughter Jayva greeted teachers as they walked into Benaroya hall to vote whether or not to ratify a tentative agreement reached with Seattle Public Schools.

“There’s still a long struggle if they vote no, it’s still a long struggle if they vote yes,” said Curran.

While many teachers say they’re grateful for all the bargaining team accomplished specifically noting guaranteed recess and steps toward improving equity, some hesitation still existed going into the final vote. Many still struggled with the compensation, a 9.5 percent pay raise over three years.

“I feel really torn about the tentative agreement,” said Rainier Beach High School Language Arts Teacher Natalia Scolnik. “We’re at a crisis. There are crisis caseloads, and we didn’t really get as much as we needed to do our job effectively.”

However, once teachers cast their ballots and made their way out many shared their relief that this is now over.

“I think our union reps represented us to the best of their ability now it’s time to go after the state legislation and fully fund education,” said Mawiayah Fields, a STEM educator.

While 17 percent voted ‘no’ to ratifying the contract, union leaders stressed it was to send a message to Olympia.

“I want to stress to both the public and the legislature that the vast majority of those voting no were not voting no against the groundbreaking gains but voting not against legislative inaction on school funding,” said Seattle Education Association President Jonathan Knapp.

Union leaders say they’re next step is to put pressure on the legislature to fund public education through revenue reform.