No school in Tacoma Thursday as teachers go on strike

TACOMA, Wash. -- The Tacoma Education Association announced Wednesday that negotiations had failed to produce a tentative contract agreement by 5 p.m. and that they are now on strike.

Thursday was scheduled to be the first day of school.

Shortly afterward, the district announced Tacoma schools would be closed Thursday and will remain closed until the union strike is over.

Teachers voted Tuesday night to authorize a strike if no agreement was reached.

The Tacoma Education Association, the teachers union, said it has 2,450 members, and internal rules required that at least 1,500 were in attendance for the vote. More than 2,100 turned out, with a 97.3% yes vote authorizing the strike, it said.

“Our members made it clear that our administration must put students first and help shut the revolving door for school employees,” TEA President Angel Morton said in a news release. “Tacoma needs to be able to attract and keep great teachers, and we won’t be able to do that if our district squanders the McCleary promise when nearby districts agree to offer competitive, professional wages as the state intended.”

The TEA says the district is refusing to pass through state-directed salary increases under the McCleary school funding lawsuit. The state Supreme Court ordered that the money be available by Sept. 1, legislators agreed and the governor signed the salary increases into law.

"The last link in that chain is for school administrators to pass through the money so teachers are granted the historic salary increases envisioned by the state," the TEA said in its news release.