Seattle Teachers End Labor Dispute

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(Reuters) – Teachers in Seattle on Sunday ratified a new three-year contract putting an end to a labor dispute that included a week-long strike and a series of marathon bargaining sessions overseen by state mediators.

Rank-and-file teachers and support staff in the 5,000-member union, the Seattle Education Association, “overwhelmingly approved” the accord that consists of pay raises totaling 9.5 percent over the life of the contract, according to union spokesman Rich Wood.

Teachers ratified the contract four days after they ended a strike on Wednesday that cost 53,000 students six days of class time in the largest public education system in the Pacific Northwest.

The strike, which left many working parents scrambling to improvise childcare arrangements, marked the first labor-related disruption of classes in three decades for Seattle’s public schools.

Negotiators for the teachers union and the Seattle school district had reached a tentative agreement on Tuesday. Union leaders voted that same day to endorse the pact and immediately end the walkout.

The union had originally sought pay raises totaling 18 precut over three years. The 9.5 percent in the new contract is on top of a state-approved 4.8 percent cost-of-living adjustment over three years.

The teachers also won contract language ending the practice of linking teacher evaluations to student test scores, as well as compensation for instructional time being added to the school day.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien; Editing by Richard Borsuk)