Judge rules Kelso teachers strike illegal - KPTV - FOX 12

Judge rules Kelso teachers strike illegal

Posted: Updated: Sep 18, 2015 07:48 PM

A judge in Cowlitz County Superior court has ruled that the strike by members of the Kelso Education Association is illegal.

In the ruling Friday afternoon, the judge ruled the teachers to be back in school Tuesday morning.

Judge David Koss said the strike violated the students right to an education, the argument made by the district in the suit filed Wednesday.

"The paramount duty of the state is to provide an education for the children within the state," Koss said.

The KEA argued that the strike was the last tool the teachers had left in their negotiations with the district.

Teachers have been working without a contract since June, with the main points of contention being pay rate and an increased work load.

One teacher, Allison Latham, said her salary was so low that her son qualified for free lunch at school, assistance that was difficult for the teacher to accept.

"It was really difficult for me to fill out that paperwork," she said. "It was really upsetting to me because I feel like we work really hard."

The teachers went on strike at midnight Wednesday, leading the district to cancel school for three days.

Thursday, the Kelso School District sent a letter to parents saying the district sent an offer to the union that would make Kelso teachers the highest-paid in Cowlitz County.

Neither the District nor KEA would comment on camera after the ruling Friday. If teachers do not return to class Tuesday they risk being held in contempt of court.

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