Members of the North Thurston Education Association (NTEA) overwhelmingly rejected a proposed collective bargaining agreement last week.
As a result, teachers in Thurston County’s largest public school district continue to work without a contract.
“NTEA leadership is currently working with members to gather more information as to specifics that members desire for the 2015-16 proposed collective bargaining agreement,” NTEA president Conni Van Hoose said in an emailed statement. “Compensation and additional work days are among the current concerns expressed.”
The union plans to focus on gathering teacher feedback, examining contracts with comparable districts, and continuing its negotiations with the district, Van Hoose said.
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North Thurston Public Schools spokeswoman Courtney Schrieve said the district respects and recognizes teachers’ great work.
“We were disappointed that they voted down the tentative bargaining agreement,” she said in an emailed statement. “We will be regrouping, gathering information and figuring out next steps so that we can hopefully return to the bargaining table and reach an agreement. Meanwhile, we will all keep working for kids.”
In September, the district announced that a tentative agreement had been reached by bargaining teams, but that a technical issue delayed teachers’ vote on the contract. That contract included three additional compensation days and a 4.8 percent cost-of-living adjustment over the next two years, according to Schrieve.
NTEA represents about 950 teachers in the district. Several North Thurston teachers declined requests by The Olympian to comment on the contract vote, saying they didn’t want to get in trouble for discussing it with the media.
School administrators can’t discipline teachers for talking to the media about contract issues, according to Rich Wood, a spokesman for the Washington Education Association.
Van Hoose said she believes teachers in the district are simply being cautious.
“We’ve never not ratified a contract,” she said. “It’s new territory for everyone.”