Battle Ground Schools reach agreement with union workers - but they aren't teachers


As teachers continued to strike on sidewalks in front of Battle Ground High School on Thursday, the city's school district said an agreement had been reached with nearly 600 union workers. But, they are not teachers.According to the district, the Public School Employees (PSE) Association came to terms on a 3-year contract on Monday that offers annual raises. For the 2018-2019 school year, members of the union will receive a 6 percent pay raise. For the two following school years, 3 percent raises will be received annually.Members of the PSE Association include custodial and maintenance staff, basic education assistance, recess and lunch aides, security, IT staff and warehouse personnel.

Meanwhile, an agreement between the Battle Ground school district and teachers union has not yet been reached. Union representatives have said both sides are failing to concur on salary.In neighboring Hockinson, where teachers were out on sidewalks in front of schools Thursday morning, there's a similar dispute over teachers' salaries."Supposed to start [classes] on Wednesday, so they're back at the negotiating table today. Hopefully with some progress, we can end this thing and be back on Friday," said teacher Sean O'Neal.

Hockinson and Battle Ground are among numerous Southwest Washington school districts where teacher unions have voted to strike in an effort to get higher pay raises. Unions have argued for larger percentages of new state funding be used for salaries."Yes, a piece of it is set that bar for the future," said Shannon Mccombs, an Instructional Coach in Hockinson schools. "A piece of it too is there is a respect thing too with it."Districts have argued they have an option of discretion in spending the new funding, and said the monies are disrupting local tax levies.While many districts and unions have continued negotiations, including some lasting as long as 12 hours per day, schools have been closed and classes have been cancelled. But in most school districts, both sides maintain they're making progress towards reaching an agreement. Mediators have also been brought in to help meet in the middle.

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