No new contract, No work: If mediation fails Kennewick educators may strike

No contract, No work: If mediation fails Kennewick educators may strike

Kennewick educators said it feels like negotiations with the school board and district aren't going anywhere.

They told Action News if things don't change they'll be voting on a strike next time they meet.

Thursday night's bargaining session ended without a new contract, though there was an agreement to postpone more bargaining without a state-appointed mediator.

Members of the Kennewick Education Association (KEA) said the district refuses to budge and they're running out of options and time.

KEA President Janet Bell said it's hard not to feel discouraged after the most recent bargaining meeting ended with nothing to show for it.

"We're not going to start the year with a contract at the rate we're going," she said.

Educators said they've repeatedly tried compromising with the district, but Kennewick Schools wont bargain.

"Negotiation is [two] sides, one side goes down a bit, the other side goes up," sighed Bell. "They've just been sitting on the same number and they wont move off it."

Thursday's bargaining session ended without a new contract to vote on.

Bell said time is running out; they need something to take before KEA members on August 20.

"If there's nothing to show our members it's going to be a 'No contract, no work' kind of thing," she explained. "The only power we have is in our people and our labor, the next logical step would be a strike."

The educator said even if members vote to strike, it gives Kennewick schools another week to negotiate before classes start; she hopes it doesn't come to that.

"If it comes to striking it will impact families," Bell said. "We keep that very much in mind, because nobody wants to disrupt the lives of children."

But if it comes down to it, she said they might have to.

"We're not asking for anything unreasonable," she said. "The money has already been levied and paid, so it's just going to sit somewhere. It baffles me why they think they need to hang on to it."

Kennewick School District said they weren't releasing an official statement after Thursday's meeting, but a representative confirmed agreeing to mediation with Washington's Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC).

Superintendent David Bond will have an update at next Wednesday's board meeting and Action News will keep monitoring this developing story.

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