After Issaquah School District paraeducators and office professionals voted to authorize a strike on Jan. 15, the strike committees of both unions unanimously set a strike deadline of Tuesday, Jan. 29.
After a union meeting where members overwhelmingly voted to authorize the strike, Strike Committees were formed for both Public School Employees of Washington SEIU Local 1948 and SEIU 925. The committees met on Jan. 17 to discuss the next steps after the vote to authorize a strike.
In a press release from SEIU 1948 and SEIU 925, the unions noted they agreed to explore mediation with the district over the cost-of-living-adjustments. If no resolution is agreed upon by Jan. 29, both union groups will begin the strike and will picket in Issaquah.
“We’ve been working for almost five months without our full paycheck,” said Emily Freet, assistant to the principal at Maple Hills Elementary and president of the PSE Issaquah Office Professionals Chapter. “The district is refusing to honor the contract that we negotiated, and we can no longer sit back and allow them to ignore us. The COLA (cost of living adjustment) they promised would benefit some of the lowest paid school employees so that we can continue to provide exceptional support for the students we know and love.”
Paraeducators and office professionals plan to strike due to the district not implementing the lack of cost-of-living-adjustments union members say was bargained for in their contract. Salary increases were honored.
The Issaquah School District said the state did not allocate any COLA or pass-through for the 2018-2019 contract year, so there was no misapplication of the bargaining agreement.
The district released a written statement saying it was surprised by the decision to have a vote to strike.
“We have contracts with both that include language that outlines the process by which disagreements are to be resolved. At this point, the grievance process outlined in the contracts, that were mutually agreed to, has not yet been completed,” ISD wrote.
ISD executive director of communications L Michelle said on Tuesday, Jan. 22, that the school district had reached out to both union groups and offered multiple dates to go into mediation to work through the contract. As of Tuesday at 2 p.m. the district had not heard back on a date.