Centralia Teacher Strike Ends

Posted

After the Centralia School District and Centralia Education Association reached a tentative agreement on Monday evening, the district confirmed students will be back in the classroom on Wednesday.

“We started getting hopeful around 6:30 p.m. or so and we finally got the word from our negotiators and attorney just after 8 p.m.,” said Ed Petersen, public relations and communications coordinator for the district.

Kerri Kite-Pocklington, who is a co-chair of CEA, said teachers were celebrating Monday evening.

“We are over the moon,” Kite-Pocklington said. “There were more and more and more people coming out to congratulate our bargaining team and to celebrate with them for all their hard work.”

Centralia School District Superintendent Mark Davalos did not make himself available for comment on Monday evening.

The district and CEA will not release details of the agreement — such as the minimum and maximum salary for teachers — until the CEA ratifies it. CEA members are set to meet at 8 a.m. on Tuesday for a ratification vote.

“We are not releasing any of those types of details until the union meets with members and has a ratification vote,” Petersen said.

The final step is for the Centralia School Board to approve the agreement. The school board has a workshop scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 12, but the agenda was not posted on the school district’s website as of 9 p.m. on Monday evening. The school district must notify the public 24 hours in advance to call a special board meeting.

Kite-Pocklington said CEA texted members around 7 p.m. that the bargaining team was at a “critical juncture.” The district and the union reached a tentative agreement about 8 p.m. and more than 30 cars showed up to celebrate.

Kite-Pocklington said teachers will return to the classrooms as soon as the CEA ratifies its agreement with the district.

“They are going to have names on tables and desks and make sure that their mind is ready to go and all that energy and enthusiasm to get ready for a great 2018-19 school year,” Kite-Pocklington said of Tuesday.

Had the district and CEA not reached an agreement before 1 p.m. on Tuesday, both were set to appear in court.

School in Centralia was meant to begin a week ago, on Wednesday, Sept. 5, but was postponed due to the strike.

Cliff Foster, who is an attorney that represents the Centralia School District, filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against the CEA and its co-chairs on Thursday, Sept. 6 in Lewis County Superior Court.

Centralia was the only school district in Lewis County without at least a tentative agreement for teacher salaries, at the time.

After Centralia School District filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, CEA members began gathering signed affidavits from parents to garner support. The union said it submitted more than 600 signed affidavits to Lewis County Superior Court on Monday morning.

“My goal was 300 (affidavits) and we beat that goal, very, very excitedly and proudly,” said Kite-Pocklington on Monday afternoon. “Our parents’ support has just been phenomenal.”

CEA members left 300 affidavits at Santa Lucia Coffee Roasters in Centralia on Saturday and collected signatures over the weekend from parents at George Washington Park. The members took translators, who spoke Spanish to communicate with parents as well.

Both representatives from the Centralia School District and the CEA said Monday afternoon they hoped the hearing wouldn’t be necessary.

“We would like to thank the support of all of our parents and our community,” Kite-Pocklington said. “We gathered over 600 declarations saying that the strike did not make an impact on their children.”