Teachers in Seattle have voted to authorize a strike after contract negotiations between their union and Seattle Public Schools failed to produce a deal over pay.
The strike is expected to take effect on September 5 ― the first day of school ― if discussions don’t result in a tentative contract.
According to The Seattle Times, the decision by the Seattle Education Association on Tuesday night followed strikes that have disrupted the first day of school in two southwest Washington districts. Additional educators are expected to take action in four more districts over the coming days.
The action stems from an order by the Washington Supreme Court in 2017 that required the state to accelerate its plan to provide more money for teachers’ salaries. Since then, lawmakers have approved billions of dollars in school funding, including $2 billion set aside for salaries.
Negotiations with the union were focused on how the funding should be distributed. A spokesperson for the Washington Education Association said the discussions presented a “once in a lifetime” opportunity for teachers to ask for a substantial pay increase.
Seattle Public Schools’ Superintendent Denise Juneau previously said in a statement that she was “optimistic there will be a positive resolution for staff, students and families.”
Another meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.
If the strike does go ahead, it won’t be the first time that Seattle teachers have walked out of class to demand higher pay. In 2015, a teachers’ strike delayed the start of the school year for more than 50,000 students.