PUYALLUP, Wash. -- Puyallup teachers have been marching outside their respective schools for days but on Friday they took the strike closer to school administrators to protest salaries.
Friday’s gathering was one of the largest teacher rallies so far this year.
Hundreds of Puyallup teachers took over Pioneer Park on day 3 of the strike.
They were loud enough to be heard across the street at the school district’s headquarters.
“It’s pretty encouraging and motivating to see such a supportive group,” teacher Makynlie Jeffers said.
Jeffers is a first year Puyallup teacher.
“There are very few young beginning teachers,” Jeffers said.
She says low pay for starting teachers is a big reason for the shortage.
“The number one thing people say is they don’t make any money,” Jeffers said.
Before gathering at Pioneer Park, teachers surrounded the school district’s office.
Many in the community honked in support as teachers circled the building.
“We feel the love, it’s time we feel the love from our school district,” teacher Melissa Taylor said.
But on its website, the school district says teachers do make competitive wages.
Days before teachers went on strike, the district says they offered a 6.6% pay raise, bringing beginner teacher salaries to $53,035. The most experienced teachers would top out at $105,024.
But that compensation package was not enough to strike a deal. Teachers like Taylor say the union bargaining team is staying tight-lipped about the negotiation.
But she says the rest of them rallying are willing to continue the strike until they get what they believe they deserve.
“We will be out here striking until we have a tentative agreement with the school district,” Taylor said.
The two sides were at the negotiating table all day Friday but no word yet on whether they are close to a compromise.