Seattle teachers union files unfair labor practice complaints against school district

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Dahlia Bazzaz

Seattle Times reporter

The Seattle Education Association union has filed complaints against the Seattle Public Schools of unfair labor practices over measures the district took late last week to bring some educators back to the classrooms before the two sides reached an agreement to reopen after months of distance learning of school buildings had coronavirus pandemic.

The union filed three complaints with the state labor relations commission on Sunday alleging the district violated workers’ rights to collective bargaining and violated two state laws. Each complaint represents one of three main categories of workers the union represents: teachers, paraducators and school building workers.

After the Seattle School Board received approval last week, the district named around 700 educators “essential” to expedite the process of in-person tuition for special needs students, some of whom have waited months to serve as a COVID-19 school, and building closures remain consist. The latest agreement with the teachers’ union calls for the district to negotiate a return to face-to-face teaching. However, last week’s move used a clause in the contract that gives the superintendent the right to designate key staff who must be on the building.

The union argued that the action was forcing educators back into the classroom before the two parties could agree on important coronavirus safety protocols.

“SEA’s negotiations are critical to ensuring that all possible safeguards are in place to keep our students and educators safe,” said Jennifer Matter, president of the Seattle Education Association, in a statement Monday morning. “It is risky, irresponsible and reckless to place additional students, some of whom are medically vulnerable, in classrooms where the district currently does not even provide adequate protection for these few students and staff.”

A district spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.