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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 13, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Teachers union angered

It’s about bad-faith negotiation

Once again, The Times has reinforced its reputation among teachers as biased toward administration and against actual teachers [“Union’s ire over letter misdirected, unhelpful,” Opinion, editorial, May 12].

The Times completely missed the point behind the anger with the non-continuation letters sent out Friday. It takes the district’s word at face value and doesn’t go any further in its analysis. I will concede that the Seattle Education Association’s response was bungled. They missed the point, as did you.

The point is not the single day. This is also not some legal formality during contract negotiations as apparently the district is telling you. It’s about bad-faith, union-busting, negotiation-circumventing tactics by the district.

The teachers operate year-to-year under a continuing contract that gets renegotiated periodically. They have in the past renegotiated work days, planning days, benefits, class size –all that is handled in contract negotiations.

Never before to my knowledge has the district sought to terminate all contracts through this law because of a need to change the contract. This is purely an attempt to circumvent the union negotiation, a process I’m sure Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson sees as a rather pesky and cumbersome one.

This is a bad-faith negotiation tactic. Basically, since all of the teachers have been non-renewed, they’re possibly in the position of no negotiation at all. The teachers have, by all appearances, been given the option of taking the new contract or nothing.

What’s almost comical is that your editorial faults the union for not understanding the financial position of the district. You give the district a pass for a “mistake” in sending the letters out Friday. However, Goodloe-Johnson’s credibility is increasingly compromised at every turn — making the announcement and sending the letters at the end of Teacher Appreciation Week right after sending an “appreciation” e-mail to all teachers. Then saying it wasn’t intended to go out — it was a “clerical error.” Then saying they’re obligated by law to notify teachers of the contract change, which is wholly untrue.

The union’s only blunder was a PR one. They didn’t make the right points in the right way.

The Times does so well in other areas, but its education coverage is so slanted with little to no investigation or research that it is completely unfair to those who dedicate their lives to educating our kids. They deserve more.

— Julia Renouard, Shoreline

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