KENNEWICK, Wash.-- Paraeducators in Kennewick voted to ratify a tentative contract agreement Thursday evening.
The vote took place at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Kennewick.
The ratification of the agreement avoids a potential strike, which would have begun on February 11th if approved by a strike vote.
Under the agreement, paraeducators will receive an 8% pay raise this year, which is retroactive to September 1st, 2018.
There is also an additional 1.5% increase for longevity. For the 2019-2020 school year, members will receive a 4.1% increase and an additional 1.5% increase for longevity.
The union reports over 600 paraeducators, cashiers, and licensed practical nurses will be affected.
Paras held informational rallies and pickets last week following a strike vote authorization on Tuesday, January 8th.
The negotiating team for the Kennewick chapter reached the tentative agreement with the district on Friday, January 11th.
PSE chapter co-president and Canyon View Elementary paraeducator Brandy Strait says it's been a long road to get to this point.
"I'm so happy we're here. I cried," she said. "It's been a hard road, we've all put a lot of hard work in, the team is amazing, the people, they're amazing so I'm just ... over the moon right now."
The Kennewick School District released a statement following the vote, saying, "We are delighted that the paraeducators have approved the district offer. The next step is for the contract to be ratified by the board of directors at their next business meeting on January 23.”