District Wants Wash. Teachers Ordered Back to Work

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The third-largest school district in Washington state sought a court order Tuesday to force hundreds of striking teachers back to work, just hours after they walked off the job.

The teachers began picketing in front of Tacoma's major high schools. They voted overwhelmingly Monday night to strike over issues that include pay, class size and the way the district's teachers are transferred and reassigned.

The strike kept 28,000 students from attending classes.

The News Tribune newspaper reported (http://bit.ly/puJUa6 ) that the district asked a Pierce County Superior Court judge to order the teachers back to work. Attorney Shannon McMinimee said the district wants the court to declare the strike illegal.

A spokesman for the Washington Education Association did not immediately return a call seeking comment about the injunction request.

Union officials said striking teachers began arriving at Lincoln High School at 6 a.m. Tuesday, and the plan was to have teachers at the city's five major high schools demonstrating all day.

"It's my 39th year of teaching. I've never struck before," fourth grade teacher Robert Brown, 60, said shortly after helping assemble signs at Wilson High School. "I'd rather be in school, I'd rather not have adversarial relationship. The principal at my school is just wonderful. My relationship with him is great. It's very negative from the central office."

Brown said he voted to strike because of the district's attempts to move teachers around the district despite seniority, saying, "in the view of this 60-year-old, it's age discrimination."

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