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Battle Ground teachers vote to defy court order, make gains

By staff |
September 16, 2018
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Battle Ground, WA - Teachers, who had voted to continue striking despite a court order to return to work, made major gains and won a strong contract, Sept. 16. The Battle Ground Education Association (BGEA) had been on strike since August 21. The strike came after the school district’s refusal to properly allocate state funding for teachers’ salaries.

In 2012, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in the McCleary decision that the state government had not been adequately funding K-12 schooling. The court then found two years later that the state legislature was still not properly funding public education. The Battle Ground School District had originally proposed a $6.3 million budget, $3.3 million short of the state-allocated funds for teacher’s salaries.

The Battle Ground School District had filed a court injunction against the teachers, requiring them to go back to work on Sept. 13. After the judge upheld the court injunction, the BGEA voted 89% in favor of defying the judge’s decision and remaining on strike until a decent contract was won. After long negotiations that lasted through the night into Saturday morning, the union and the school district announced a tentative agreement had been reached.

The agreement was approved by 99% of the membership. Starting teachers in Battle Ground will now be making a third more than starting teachers made before, and up to $93,731 for the most experienced teachers. “We vowed to both our members and to each other on the team that we were not gonna walk away unless we had every penny. And we got every McCleary penny for our educators,” said President Linda Peterson, who had been a lead negotiator.