Mediation Upcoming for Lake Washington School District
Thursday, October, 17, 2019
Mediation is imminent for the Lake Washington School District and the Lake Washington Educational Support Professionals union. The two groups were unable to reach a contract agreement by the time school started and will now call in a third-party neutral mediator to help them with negotiations.
The Support Professionals’ contract, which is good for three years at a time, expired before the start of the school year. The issues in question include hours, wages, and working conditions. The union represents approximately 300 staff members, including clerical assistances, office managers, health room secretaries, receptionists, and accounting techs in the school district.
A demonstration was held in mid-August in support of the professionals and another occurred at the end of August at a school board meeting. According to the union president, “We are the face of the school.”
Bargaining negotiations began in May. Teachers in the district were given a statewide pay increase of 12 percent and the support staff wants a boost in pay, too. According to Healy Landis, the bill that was passed to give the teachers the increase was intended to increase pay for all school staff, and Landis says “We have been waiting for our turn.”
The union was given a proposal by the school district in late July. The proposal included pay cuts for education support professionals, as well as support staff. Landis says, “We are told that we are valued and important all the time. But to hear the words ‘paycut’ shows that we are not really valued. We do not feel valued or respected.”