Tumwater teachers may be fined thousands of dollars if strike continues

Photo: KOMO News

TUMWATER, Wash. -- The Tumwater School District said late Thursday that it will be asking a judge for an enforcement hearing to try to get its teachers back in school. Friday with be the eight day of no classes and the second day of teachers defying a judge's order to return to work.

The lawyer for the district said they may ask the judge to fine the teachers union more than $2,000 every day they remain on strike. Teachers say they're not budging until a contract agreement is reached.

"I think when we decided to take this route we wanted to make sure the district knew that we were not backing down, but we're stepping up," said Union president Tim Voie to a crowd of teachers at Tumwater High School.

The teachers know they are walking on shaky legal ground.

"That's a difficult thing," said teacher Doug Peltier.

After being ordered back to work by Judge Chris Lanese, the teachers voted to defy that order and continue striking.

"Sometimes what we need to do is stand up for something we don't believe is right and in this case we don't believe that's right," Peltier added. "So that's why we're out here."

The union president put tape over his mouth to join other members in silent protest against the district. They claim they are being silenced by the district when the school board cancelled it's public meeting Thursday night, preventing the teachers and public from speaking out. Instead they held their own meeting to hear what people are thinking.

"That's bad," said parent Steven Rannow. "They shouldn't be doing that, but I can see both sides. He said he supports teachers, but he has a special needs son who really needs the benefits of being in the district's preschool. "Yes, because my son goes to the New Market Preschool and he has a sensory issue and he needs to have extra learning, so yes it does affect us."

The state teachers union president says they're eager to hear all sides. "Bottom line is we have educators out here that are very brave and are standing up for the kids in their community," said Washington Education Association president Kim Mead.

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