Kelso School District files lawsuit calling teacher’s strike ill - KPTV - FOX 12

Kelso School District files lawsuit calling teacher’s strike illegal

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The Cowlitz County Hall of Justice in Kelso. The Cowlitz County Hall of Justice in Kelso.

On the first full day of a teacher’s strike in Kelso, the school district filed a legal motion calling the strike illegal and asking a judge to grant an injunction to order employees back to work.

The lawsuit against the Kelso Education Association was filed in Superior Court in Cowlitz County Wednesday.

It says the strike “is a clear violation of the law of the State of Washington” as well as a “breach of the individual employment contracts” made between the teacher’s union and the district.

According to the motion, the strike causes “aspects of irreparable harm,” including: violating student rights to an education, potentially compromising state funding, disrupting services for students who are disabled or in special education, interfering with school activities tied to scholarships, and affecting working parents who must arrange daycare, among other things.

It asks a judge to order all striking employees to return to work or be in contempt of court and face sanctions.

 “From what I understand, this is kind of a scare tactic, this is what they do when they negotiate, but the way we’re looking at it is, why are we involving all these expensive lawyers?” said teacher and union spokesperson Sandy DeBruler.

DeBruler told Fox 12 she wants to see the labor dispute settled at the bargaining table, not in the courtroom.

But as another day of mediation at the district office came and went without a deal, she was one of hundreds of employees who joined the picket lines.

 “We had teachers crying, kids came with homemade signs, wearing red t-shirts, I mean I couldn’t believe it,” she said.  “I never anticipated this much support.”

Both picketing and mediation resume in Kelso Thursday morning.

A hearing on the court motion will be held Friday at 2:00 p.m.

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