See below for the letter that I and two other Councilmembers sent to the Seattle School Board, urging them not to take legal action against the Seattle Education Association (the union representing teachers and other educators in Seattle). To read the solidarity statement I wrote supporting the union’s demands and a fair contract, see my blog post here.
Download the PDF here.
September 8, 2015
Dear Seattle School Board,
Thank you for your work managing Seattle Public Schools. We are writing to urge you to reject a proposal that will come up for a vote at the Board’s special meeting this evening. If this proposal received a majority approval from you, it would give Superintendent Nyland the authority to take the Seattle Education Association (SEA) to court to get an injunction against a strike. As members of the School Board, you have been elected by voters to support the best possible education for our students, and the teachers, paraprofessionals, and SAEOPs of the Seattle Education Association are the best experts on what Seattle Public Schools need. By voting no on this proposal, you will have the opportunity to reassert the fundamental rights of Seattle educators to defend education and bargain collectively like other workers.
We believe the SEA’s demands in these contract negotiations are reasonable, in the best interests of Seattle students and should be considered in good faith. However, regardless of one’s opinions on the union’s demands, the educators’ democratic right to speak out, organize unions, and go on strike must be defended.
We urge you to not follow the heavy-handed negotiating tactics previously employed by the district Superintendents in Pasco and Spokane. By using the courts to try to force teachers to abandon their strike, they are doing irreparable harm to education in their districts.
The Seattle Education Association has the overwhelming support of parents, students and the community.
Please continue to negotiate in good faith with the educators in our district and respect their right to withhold their labor in the absence of what they see as a fair contract. A strike is one of the most basic tools that give workers power in our society, and the Seattle Education Association has consistently used its power to fight to improve public education. Please vote against any move to take legal action against the union, and please continue to support the best education for all our students.
Councilmembers Kshama Sawant, Nick Licata, and John Okamoto