Teachers in the Mukilteo School District attended the June 11 school board meeting to urge elected officials to renegotiate salaries. (Andrea Brown / Herald file)

Teachers in the Mukilteo School District attended the June 11 school board meeting to urge elected officials to renegotiate salaries. (Andrea Brown / Herald file)

Pickets, protests pay off as Mukilteo teachers get hefty hikes

The deal needs to be ratified by the teachers union and be approved by the school board.

MUKILTEO — There were pickets, protests and constant pressure.

And on Wednesday, public school teachers in Mukilteo secured what they had been pursuing for months — a sizable pay raise for the district’s roughly 1,000 certified classroom instructors.

Teachers in Mukilteo School District will see their salaries climb around 13 percent under a tentative agreement announced Wednesday afternoon.

Under the proposal, the annual salary for a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree would climb from the current $51,856 to $58,481. At the other end of the scale, a teacher with 12 or more years experience and a master’s degree, would be paid $112,396, up from $99,016.

Those were the only details revealed by representatives of the district and the Mukilteo Education Association, which is the teachers union.

“This agreement was possible due to the engagement and advocacy of our union over the last few months,” union President Dana Wiebe wrote in an email. “More details will be released after our membership meeting.”

The union is expected to ratify terms at its general membership meeting Aug. 29. Once teachers have acted, school board directors must approve the pay hikes. Though the board might not meet until September, the increases would be retroactive to Sept. 1.

“We were always optimistic it was going to happen,” district spokesman Andy Muntz said. “I think both parties were working to get it done. I don’t think there was any doubt we would do that.”

Wednesday’s announcement culminates months of efforts by teachers to convince the district’s administration and school board to share the spoils of the landmark school funding lawsuit known as McCleary.

In April, the association sent district leaders a formal demand to renegotiate its contract, which runs through August 2019, to put an infusion of state dollars from the lawsuit into salaries.

But Assistant Superintendent Bruce Hobert turned them down, saying lawmakers “did not intend to impair existing contracts” when they added funding and made other changes earlier this year. He argued the two sides had a closed contract.

Teachers then began to conduct informational pickets on school days during lunch. And large crowds started showing up at school board meetings imploring district directors to intercede and get negotiations started.

In June, with teachers feeling they were not making headway, they took a vote of no confidence in Superintendent Marci Larsen and gave the union’s bargaining committee authority to call a strike if there was no tentative agreement to consider by Wednesday.

Last week more than 100 teachers and supporters, many in red shirts and carrying “Fair Contract Now!” signs held a sidewalk demonstration in Everett. The rally preceded a scheduled three-hour bargaining session with district officials later that day.

The accord in Mukilteo erases the threat of a walkout. It comes two weeks after teachers in the Edmonds School District reached a deal for pay hikes of as much as 20 percent in the coming school year.

In both districts, teachers are working under contracts which don’t expire until August 2019. What they sought was to reopen those contracts to negotiate salary increases with an injection of state dollars as a result of the McCleary suit.

Elsewhere in Snohomish County, teachers are in the midst of negotiating completely new collective bargaining agreements with their respective districts. They all are looking to secure agreements by Aug. 31, the end of the school fiscal year.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

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