LWESP authorized a strike for a fair contract with competitive and equitable pay Tuesday, Jan. 7. Photo courtesy of Lake Washington Education Support Professionals Facebook page

LWESP authorized a strike for a fair contract with competitive and equitable pay Tuesday, Jan. 7. Photo courtesy of Lake Washington Education Support Professionals Facebook page

Lake Washington School District office professionals authorize strike

After months of negotiations, LWESP authorized a strike Jan. 7; District says LWESP can’t legally strike.

Office professionals who work in the Lake Washington School District (LWSD) voted unanimously to authorize a strike Tuesday night at a general membership meeting held at Redmond High School.

Members of the Lake Washington Education Support Professionals (LWESP) union voted to authorize the union’s executive board to call a strike “in our fight for competitive pay and a fair contract,” according to a release. “The timing of the strike will be determined by the executive board in consultation with the LWESP bargaining team.”

The union represents about 300 LWSD office staff members, which include office managers, clerical assistants, receptionists, health room secretaries and accounting technicians.

School secretaries and other office professionals in LWSD have been working without a contract since Aug. 31. Contract negotiations began in May and the district requested mediation services from the Public Employees Relation Commission (PERC) in August. The school district and LWESP have participated in eight mediated sessions since August and have continued to exchange proposals, according to the district.

At Monday’s bargaining meeting, the district proposal included an average salary increase of 12.8 percent over three years. The union provided a counter proposal that included an average salary increase of 28.1 percent over three years.

Bargaining ended Monday, Jan. 6, without a settlement.

According to LWESP’s press release, this school year was the union’s first chance to negotiate competitive pay since the state Legislature approved historic increases in state funding specifically for educator compensation.

“Despite months of negotiations, protests and picketing, the Lake Washington School Board and superintendent have refused to negotiate a fair contract deal for office professionals,” the release stated.

LWESP union president Carolina Borrego said the office professionals are tired of being disrespected and undervalued by the superintendent and school board.

“We work hard. We are professionals,” Borrego said in a release. “We are tired of being disrespected and undervalued by our superintendent and school board. [Tuesday night’s] unanimous strike vote shows we aren’t scared of taking a stand for ourselves and our students. Enough is enough.”

According to the school district, classified employees are not legally permitted to strike.

“RCW41.56.120 states that classified employees, such as the LWESP, are not legally permitted to strike,” according to a press release from the district. “Under RCW 41.56.123, the current contract extends through Aug. 31, 2020, or until a new contract is established.”

The district has announced it continues to approach each bargaining session in good faith and will continue to consider all reasonable proposals.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article had incorrectly labeled RCWs.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@kirklandreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kirklandreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

The nose of the 500th 787 Dreamliner at the assembly plant in Everett on Sept. 21, 2016. (Kevin Clark / Herald, file)
Report: Boeing will end 787 Dreamliner production in Everett

Boeing declined comment on a Wall Street Journal story saying the passenger jet’s assembly will move to South Carolina.

Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Surge in consumer spending eases state budget challenges

A jump in tax collections cuts a projected $9 billion shortfall in half, acccording to new forecast.

High speed rail and hub cities explored in Cascadia Corridor study

A new paper outlines a potential plan for the region.

Should state cover school bus costs if there are no riders?

With funding tied to getting students to school, districts are uncertain how much money they’ll receive.

The truck of the Renton family as it was found Tuesday. While fleeing the Cold Springs Fire two adults were severely burned and one toddler died. Courtesy photo/Okanogan Sheriff’s Office
Toddler killed as Renton family flees Cold Springs Fire

The parents were severely burned and are being treated at Harborview Medical Center

A plane drops fire retardant on the Palmer Mountain Fire last week. The fire is listed as 84 percent contained, and fully lined. Laura Knowlton/Sound Publishing staff photo
Threat multiplier: How climate change, coronavirus and weather are scorching WA

Dry summer conspired with the pandemic and a wind storm.

Screenshot from the state Employment Security Department’s website at esd.wa.gov.
Workers may qualify for an extra $1,500 in unemployment back pay

A federal program will give some of the state’s unemployed a $300 weekly bump for the past five weeks.

King County moves to Stage 2 burn ban

Outdoor fires, even barbecues or in fire pits, are now prohibited.

Image courtesy of the Washington Department of Natural Resources.
Massive wildfires incinerate WA

All state Department of Natural Resources lands were closed to recreational activities on Sept. 8.

Screenshot of the air quality monitor at 11 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 8. Courtesy Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.
King County faces unhealthy air quality due to wildfire smoke

Weather monitors recommend people limit time outdoors, especially children, seniors and those with heart or lung disease.

Amazon adds more office space to Bellevue, now as many new jobs as HQ2

The office space for an additional 10,000 jobs, making it 25,000 coming to downtown, is expected to complete in 2023.