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Mukilteo teachers set deadline for potential strike


Last updated 6/13/2018 at Noon

The Mukilteo Education Association has given its bargaining team the authority to call a strike if no agreement is made with the Mukilteo School District regarding an increase in salaries.

MEA members held a general membership meeting prior to the Monday, June 11, Mukilteo School Board meeting, voting unanimously to give their bargaining team the authority to call a strike if no tentative agreement is in place by Aug. 15.

Members of the MEA met with a team of representatives from the Mukilteo School District twice last week, in large part to discuss a potential increase in salaries.

MEA members have said they believe the Mukilteo School District will be receiving at least $40 million more from the state for the 2018-2019 school year than the 2017-2018 school year, and want some of those funds to be used to fairly compensate teachers.

In an email to The Beacon over the weekend, MEA President Dana Wiebe said that no agreement has been made.

“Sadly, no agreement to report,” Wiebe said.

Wiebe said MEA bargainers felt progress was being made in the discussions, and that MEA representatives were willing to meet over the weekend to try to expedite contract discussions.

“MEA wanted to meet Monday morning (and even offered to meet over the weekend) with the district to try to bring something to our members for ratification,” Wiebe said.

“The district has responded with, ‘It may not be productive to continue our discussions.’ So that’s where we’re at.”

Mukilteo School District Spokesman Andy Muntz said an offer was made to the MEA that would increase salaries, and that the school district simply wants additional legal counsel before moving on with the process.

“When the school district and the teachers’ union met last Friday, the school district offered the MEA a proposal that would not only provide our teachers with a significant increase in compensation, it would do so within the existing contract, and would be structured in a way that does not violate state law and that would be sustainable over time,” Muntz said.

“The email that was sent to the MEA after the meeting was simply informing them that the school board would like to consult with legal counsel to get greater clarity about the issue that is in state law regarding the limit on compensation for the 2018-19 school year. The memo simply asks that further discussion wait until that opinion has been received.”

At their Monday general membership meeting, MEA members also took a vote of no confidence in Mukilteo School District Superintendent Marci Larsen.

“This is letting Dr. Larsen and the board know we are not confident with the leadership in the school district,” Wiebe said.

The MEA also is working on an electronic vote for all of its members so they can vote on their confidence in Larsen.

Teachers and parents, for the third straight Mukilteo School Board meeting, packed the meeting room and used the public comment period to voice their displeasure over this issue.

Nardos Habtemicael, a first grade teacher at Challenger Elementary, said the last two years have been extremely difficult for her financially.

“I have been a teacher for the last two years, and I’ve also worked a second job. I am a server at a restaurant because I cannot afford to live off a teacher’s salary - especially a new teacher’s salary,” Habtemicael said.

She said she also has been working on getting her master’s degree so she can receive higher pay from the district.

“There’s money for us, specifically for teachers to get paid. I don’t understand,” Habtemicael said. “I’m working my butt off, and you’re saying we need to wait another year. That frustrates me. It makes me feel not valued. It makes me question the district.”

Some speakers brought up the Lake Washington School District, which had been in a similar situation as the Mukilteo School District in terms of teachers wanting to bargain for salaries. The Lake Washington Education Association and the Lake Washington School District recently came to terms on a new salary agreement.

Shan Oglesby, a teacher at Kamiak, attended Olympic View Middle School and Mariner High School, and has worked in the district for nearly 30 years.

Oglesby said her husband works in the Lake Washington School District and that they have the same amount of experience and credits, and that he now makes $20,000 more than she does.

“That’s a hard pill to swallow,” she said. “That is a life-changing amount of money.”

Oglesby said she is so upset with the district’s refusal to come to an agreement with the teachers that she is considering leaving the district.

“My husband and I both sat down and had a long discussion about this, and it was an agonizing decision for me, but if Mukilteo does not come up with an equivalent deal here by the end of the school year then I am leaving,” Oglesby said. “I will leave, and I encourage other teachers to do the same.”

Author Bio

Brandon Gustafson, Editor, Mukilteo Beacon

Brandon Gustafson was named editor of the Mukilteo Beacon in October, 2017. Born and raised in Mukilteo, Brandon attended Mukilteo Elementary, Olympic View Middle School, and Kamiak High School, graduating in 2013. After high school, Brandon attended Shoreline Community College, earning his associate's degree while playing for the school's baseball team. He then transferred to the University of Washington, where he graduated in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in communications-journalism.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 425-347-5634
Twitter: @MukBeaconBPG


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