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Teachers union files unfair labor complaint against Seattle district

March 2, 2021
The union objects to the district designating 700 educators as "essential" in an effort to speed up a return to in-person instruction for some students.

The union representing Seattle teachers has filed unfair labor practice complaints against Seattle Public Schools for actions the district has taken to bring some educators back to classrooms before the two sides had reached an agreement on reopening school buildings.

The Seattle Times reports that the Seattle Education Association union filed three complaints with the state’s Public Employment Relations Commission alleging the district interfered with the rights of employees to collectively bargain working conditions, violating two state statutes.

Each complaint represents one of three main categories of employees the union represents: teachers, paraeducators and school-building office staffers.

The district last week designated some 700 educators as “essential” to speed up the process of in-person instruction for special education students.

The most recent agreement with the teachers union requires the district to negotiate a return to in-person instruction, but the move last week uses a clause in the contract that gives the superintendent the right to determine essential staff who need to be on site in buildings.

The union argues that the action forces educators back into the classroom before the two parties were able to agree on important coronavirus safety protocols.

Jennifer Matter, president of the Seattle Education Association, says: “Putting additional students, some of them medically fragile, in classrooms when the district isn’t even providing adequate protection for those few students and staff in-person now, is risky, irresponsible, and reckless.”

School district spokesperson Tim Robinson says the district is aware of the complaints and planned to proceed with summoning those educators back.

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