Snohomish teachers approve contract

Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2002

SEATTLE (AP) -- Teachers in Snohomish voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to accept a two-year contract offer from the school district, agreeing to start working Wednesday and end a strike that lasted three weeks.

The vote was 445-5 in favor of accepting the contract, said J. Marie Merrifield, spokesperson for the 8,000-student district.

''I'm thrilled and relieved,'' Merrifield said. ''And I think we're all looking forward to starting school tomorrow.''

The contract included a 2.08 percent raise the first year and 1.75 percent the second year -- in each case on top of the state-funded cost-of-living adjustment mandated by Initiative 732, passed by voters last year. This year's I-732 raise is 3.16 percent. Next year's is not yet known. The contract also lowers health-care costs for Snohomish's 470 teachers.

The School Board was expected to give the contract its final approval at a Tuesday afternoon meeting.

A new calendar was posted on the school district's Web site, with winter break shortened, all teacher-planning days eliminated and several days added at the end of the year. In all, 15 days will be added during the year, with the final day of school June 30.

Details of the tentative contract in Snohomish, northeast of Seattle, were withheld pending the teacher vote.

More than 1,300 teachers in the Snohomish and Issaquah districts began striking on Sept. 4, delaying the start of school for 22,000 students. Key issues have been pay raises and health care costs.

Teachers in Issaquah were meeting Tuesday to discuss a judge's order that they return to work.

Some teachers have said they were ready to defy the back-to-work order issued Monday by King County Superior Court Judge Joan DuBuque, who ruled that the strike is illegal. The order is effective Wednesday.

DuBuque did not specify penalties for violation of her order, and there are no plans by the Washington Education Association for an appeal, said Rich Wood, a spokesperson for the statewide teacher group.

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