Selah educators say they won't strike first day of school although they want higher pay

    Selah educators say they will not strike first day of school although they want higher pay

    SELAH, Wa. -- Several teachers around the state are fighting for higher pay including many here in the Yakima County.

    The Selah Education Association met Monday to vote for teachers to strike the first day of school until they get higher pay, but have now changed their minds.

    Selah Education Association President Michelle Kerslake says there are other steps they want to take before even thinking about striking, like making sure teachers are working together and have the same goals, as well as getting the community involved.

    “You know striking is not a goal it should be your last effort when all else fails and frankly we haven’t tried the all else yet," said Kerslake.

    She says they also want to keep communication with the district open, and would never want to make a decision that would affect the parents or children at school.

    “We would never do anything especially strike without getting parents and community on board as well it would be counterproductive and frankly it’s against our heart anyway," said Kerslake.

    The district is now offering them 13 percent increase of new money over two years, and although the teachers first asked for 18 percent increase they say they are now willing to meet the district somewhere in the middle.

    Spanish Teacher at Selah High School Wade Erickson says it’s been years since they’ve had a pay increase and that has been hard for his living situation.

    “I’ve found that my take home pay is less and less because of the cost of living is just more. My medical insurance goes up every year so even though I’m at the top of the pay scale I am actually bringing home less money each year," said Erickson.

    Selah School District Superintendent Shane Backlund wrote a statement saying the district respects all employees and values the great work they do for kids every day.

    He says they want to be able to provide a fair and sustainable compensation increase that allows them to maintain the programs they’ve developed for students over the years.

    Another bargaining session between the district and the Selah Education Association will take place August 24.

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