By a vote of 87%, more than 1900 teachers went on strike Tuesday morning in Tacoma. Instead of negotiating with teachers today, the school district petitioned the court which ordered teachers back to work. However teachers showed great solidarity, voting this morning to defy the injunction and continue the strike.
The main issue is that, under the proposed contract, principals and administrators would have the power to arbitrarily transfer teachers based on a subjective assessment system, overriding seniority. Instead of teachers being protected from arbitrary discipline and at whim transfers, teachers will be at the mercy of the administration and principal, who would target activist teachers. Other issues include adding two students to each class and a 1.9% cut in pay.
The teachers have been on strike for three days now, the school board refused to negotiate with teachers over the summer and in September hired a private negotiator who is trying to ram through attacks on teachers and the teachers union.
The Tacoma News Tribune has been leading the charge against teachers and printing hateful rhetoric that included a blog recommending that people who oppose the strike drive by and show their disagreement by holding up their middle finger. Visiting the picket line, we found teachers were confident and enthusiastic and told us they have received an outpouring of community support. Many students are standing with their teachers on the picket line and passing drivers show their support with frequent honks. Local businesses have also provided discounts to teachers and offered restroom facilities, free coffee and donuts.
As Socialist Alternative members, we have been visiting the picket line daily, standing in solidarity with the teachers and students. A victory for the teachers would be a step forward for defending public education in Tacoma.