Photo by Haley Ausbun. RESP union members attended the Sept. 11 Renton School Board meeting to make their story heard as they continue to negotiate for a new contract with the district.

Photo by Haley Ausbun. RESP union members attended the Sept. 11 Renton School Board meeting to make their story heard as they continue to negotiate for a new contract with the district.

Union leader: ‘Give us what we deserve’

Update: Paraprofessionals and staff have reached a tentative agreement with the Renton School District

Renton Education Support Professionals (RESP) are one of two unions to not yet have a contract with the district, the other being Renton Professional-Technical Association. In June, after disagreements over the Renton School District budget message, representatives had said they’d hoped this year’s bargaining would be transparent and productive.

UPDATE: After this article went to print, RESP union members voted to begin a strike on Oct. 1. After that vote, the bargaining leaders spent Thursday, Sept. 19 in negotiations with the district and reached a tentative agreement. This story will be updated as more information on the agreement becomes available.

RESP members held up signs outside the Wednesday, Sept. 11 school board meeting before speaking during the meeting’s public comment period. Union President Valisia Simpson said members were at the meeting to continue their fight for a fair contract, which has been at the bargaining table since early summer.

“We need them to respect us and give us what we deserve,” she said.

Simpson said the district has been slowly increasing their offer but it’s not enough to result in a suitable wage for the support professionals. As of Sept. 13, there is a $200,000 gap between what RESP is asking and the district is offering.

In response to these concerns, a district spokesperson stated in an email, “we continue in meetings and negotiations with our Renton Education Support Professionals (RESP) union members, as well as our other bargaining partners, to come to a resolution that honors their important work with our students and families.”

Contracts for certified staff and district staff were finalized earlier this year. Simpson said her union members are always last, on the bottom of the totem pole.

“I cannot stand the disrespect they’ve been feeling every single year they’ve been bargaining. Every single year,” said Julianna Dauble, a district teacher and UniServ council boardmember, at the school board meeting. “I have watched the district settle with administrators, certified staff and watch our RESP members get the crumbs.”

One RESP member who sits at the bargaining table, said at the meeting when they ask for an equitable salary increase, the district says it will result in layoffs. They argued that this is inequitable when 1 percent for RESP is much less than 1 percent for administrators. Others discussed difficulty buying a home and putting food on the table for their children.

Support professionals came to public comment to discuss low pay, but some said there are other concerns they want addressed. Some paraprofessionals discussed being the only one watching over 100 kids at recess. A few discussed safety concerns and that kids have ran off school property due to the lack of staffing.

One paraprofessional said Meadowcrest Early Learning Center is majority RESP staff and asked the district school board directors to come “be a para for a day.” Another paraprofessional at Meadowcrest said a student ran off the school campus last year and she chased him, and also mentioned other staff that have shown up to school with injuries for the sake of the students.

District teacher Susan DuFresne concluded RESP contract comments by saying she couldn’t do her job without RESP members, including janitors. She finds RESP members support the most marginalized kids in the district, and happen to be the most marginalized staff. Most of the RESP educators are people of color. In addition to this, DeFresne also mentioned the other union without a contract, Renton Professional-Technical Association was only given one offer, and told that was it by the district. Professional technical staff is 41 percent people of color.

Before going into executive session to discuss contract negotiations, board of directors President Pam Teal thanked those who spoke, and said they would consider their testimony as the directors work with Superintendent Damien Pattenaude to address these issues.

After the Monday, Sept. 16 bargaining meeting, RESP negotiators reported to members that they hadn’t made a tentative agreement with the district.

This story originally stated that RESP was the only Renton School District union without a contract. The Renton Professional-Technical Association (RPTA) remains without a contract. This story has been updated to correct this error.

More in News

Crime web teaser. Renton Reporter
He called 911 then was arrested for homicide

Suspect with history of assault denies his alleged role in the incident

The language of the original bill prohibited privately-owned detainment facilities from being contracted by local, state, or federal government entities, but a last-second amendment was adopted to substantially narrow the focus of the legislation. File photo
Lawmakers flinch on banning for-profit detention facilities

Last minute amendment exempted ICE detainment facility.

A proposal to make King County Metro fares free for low-income households could be approved in the coming months. File photo
King County considers free transit for low-income residents

The program would target those at or below 80 percent of the federal poverty level.

Luis Hernandez. Courtesy of Renton Schools
He didn’t care much for class until his teacher encouraged his photography

Local Renton student’s photographs featured in exhibit in Spain

A cloudy day at Renton Municipal Airport. Photo by Haley Ausbun
Renton considers legal avenues for airport plan

The city is looking at how it can combat the FAA’s masterplan requirements

Courtesy of Renton School District.
Under-enrollment in Renton may lead to budget, staff cuts

RSD asking for feedback on how to cut its spending due to impending losses

Renton man shot, killed at encampment

Renton Police are asking for information or witnesses

Courtesy of Renton Schools. Through a mentor program between local students and car dealerships, involving Renton School District Career Technical Education (CTE) worksite learning coordinators, nonprofit Mentor Washington and Communities in Schools Renton-Tukwila, students are getting both careers and a friendly hand on stepping into the adulthood. Pictured: First mentee in the program Nick Romo, who has gone on to continue his career after the program and is nearly a master technician, in a video about the program.
Dealing kids a better future

Local car dealerships mentor Renton students for future careers

Courtesy of City of Renton. The Cedar River Trail experienced a significant undermining, and much of the bank was gone after flooding over the weekend, some of it just feet away from the paved trail.
River flooding pushes Renton to the limits

Heavy rains and rising waters could cost Renton millions

Most Read