Opinion: WEA union threatens illegal strike to close public schools in Evergreen and Camas

Last week the local WEA affiliate in Vancouver, decided to block kids from school in the Evergreen School District on Wed., Aug. 30, the scheduled first day of class. The union is also threatening Camas school children with a strike. Photo courtesy Liv Finne/Washington Policy Center
Last week the local WEA affiliate in Vancouver, decided to block kids from school in the Evergreen School District on Wed., Aug. 30, the scheduled first day of class. The union is also threatening Camas school children with a strike. Photo courtesy Liv Finne/Washington Policy Center

Liz Finne of the Washington Policy Center offers more insight to the threats made by the WEA union in Clark County last week

Liv Finne 
Washington Policy Center

As families prepare to send children back to school, the WEA union plans to use strikes to illegally close public schools.  We often hear that “No one is above the law.”  That principle should apply to unions too.  To let a union ignore it threatens our democracy. 

Liv Finne
Liv Finne

Last week the local WEA affiliate in Vancouver, decided to block kids from school in the Evergreen School District on Wed., Aug. 30, the scheduled first day of class.  The union is also threatening Camas school children with a strike. The union wants more money, saying: 

“…district management refuses to invest in our schools even though they have the funding for it.”   

The union claims it plans to break the law to “protect students.”  That’s ridiculous.  Illegal strikes hurt students.  State law bars teachers from striking, as it does for other essential services, like fire and police protection.  Instead of teaching civics, the union is telling students it’s ok to undermine our democracy if you can gain something for yourself. 

A strike at Evergreen Public Schools will harm 22,833 students.  Local district employees get good pay, good benefits, a lifetime job, lots of paid vacation and summers off.  For example:   

  • The Evergreen superintendent makes $320,000 in pay plus $74,000 in benefits;  
  • The assistant superintendent makes $242,000 in pay plus $62,000 in benefits;  
  • The district has 30 other administrators who make an average of $159,000 plus $47,000 in benefits;   
  • Average teacher pay is $96,000 plus $35,000 in benefits.  Some teachers make $167,000, all with summers off.  

At the same time Evergreen students are being shorted on their education.  The district failed to educate 75% of students adequately in math and 61% adequately in English.  Here are the academic test results. 

 Illegal strikes are a feature of Washington’s out-moded monopoly public education system.   

Last fall the WEA union shut down Seattle Public Schools to 49,000 students.  As a result more families pulled out, leaving a $131 million deficit.  The Seattle district reports: 

“Enrollment has decreased since fiscal year 2013-14 while staff has increased.”   

Seattle officials now say they will close several Seattle schools in 2024.  Even some members of the press have figured out what is going on here.  Union pay-offs are wrecking school budgets.  

The WEA union now says it wants to close public schools one day a week, and use late starts and early dismissals to cut classroom hours.  State senators Dhingra and Wellman have introduced bills to cut the instruction time.  (Those bills are SB 5735 and SB 5054.) 

Families have noticed the cuts and are leaving the public schools if they can.  To date 46,000 families have pulled out of public schools in favor of homeschooling, private schools and other alternatives.  The trend is national and caring lawmakers in nine states have passed Universal School Choice laws to benefit all families, regardless of the school their children attend. 

At some point even the WEA union may notice, and realize that listening to parents, not illegally blocking school doors, is the best way to help children get the high-quality education they need and deserve. 

Liv Finne is the director of the Center for Education at the Washington Policy Center.

Do you support teacher strikes, even though they violate Washington state law?*
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  1. Michael

    This is absolutely ridiculous, these wild claims you make poison the minds of the unfortunate families who trust their local news. Please take the time to reword every exaggeration and recheck every single fact you have claimed in this article.

    1. Dave

      What parts of this article do you disagree with? Can you provide some alternate info to back your claims?

      “Average teacher pay is $96,000 plus $35,000 in benefits. Some teachers make $167,000, all with summers off” – Fact! based on union reps own admission

      “The district failed to educate 75% of students adequately in math and 61% adequately in English” – Fact! based on state test results

      In any other industry, this type of performance would get your fired!

      I have a few teachers in my family, so I have first hand knowledge of how this works. Its almost impossible to get fired after your get hired, so no incentive to do a good. Not all teachers are the same. Some have high moral and ethical values that drive them to do their best. But many are just in it for a paycheck. They find every reason to complain and excuse their poor performance. Greed! Greed! Greed! Pushed by the unions!

      1. Laurel Pascual

        Most non-government jobs give raises upon merit. Why the heck do these public-school teachers think they deserve more money when more than half the children are failing the 3R’s? The teachers think it’s more important to indoctrinate the sexualization of children than teaching skills that would benefit them when they become adults and future taxpayers. This is shameful! If I were their boss, I would fire these teachers!

        I think it’s also important to look at the average income for the communities as well. If the people don’t earn that much, then trying to raise their property tax to pay the income for these teachers will only hurt the people in the community that are already struggling to pay their bills thanks to Bidenomics. These teachers cry poor when they make a heck of a lot more than I ever did when I had a small business.

        Give parents school vouchers so they can send their kids to school’s that teach their children the skills they need to succeed in life. Let parents pick schools with the same set of values of the parents. If parents take their kids out of the failing public school system, then these teachers will be in the unemployment line instead of a picket line asking for more money. Meanwhile, the children will actually get the education they need to survive as an adult in private or home schools. Isn’t that why we send them to school?

  2. Dave Roberts

    Thank you for the article.
    Just guessing that the
    Union and the teachers are not paying attention to the legality of going on
    Strike since they’re out on the streets today and the Camas schools are CLOSED.

  3. Carolyn Crain

    The last time Evergreen wanted more money they had settled a contract the year before and still went out on strike. The WEA is a serious problem and a lack of integrity in honoring a contract that you voted for is a teachers problem Time is long passed to stop the thuggery and the monopoly while our children and our nation’s future are hanging by a thread!

  4. Margaret

    Camas teachers marching on the streets, demanding even more pay for fewer instruction hours than ever before.. Here is an article about the WEA push for fewer instructional hours. https://www.clarkcountytoday.com/opinion/opinion-the-state-legislature-may-soon-significantly-reduce-classroom-instruction-time-for-students/

    Public school educators engage in illegal strikes, then tack on the fake make-up days to the tail end of the year in late June, when seniors are gone, and very little instruction is taking place, and the last day of the year is a half day anyway, for the few that do show up. The disregard for the students education is striking.
    What counts as instruction? In some districts, Recess, class changes, parent teacher conferences, and for high school seniors, the last five days of school regardless of instruction. Comparing the Camas School District calendar from 2004-2023, instruction hours have decreased as teacher pay demands have increased.
    A look at the Camas School District calendar
    Elementary school early release every Wednesday at 12:10 PM 
    Starting in 2014, elementary students are now released early for parent-teacher conferences instead of the previous after-school timeframe.
    In 2022-23,
    Elementary conf. week early release at 12:10 PM 3 x per school year
    Middle school and high school have early release once a month.
    Both Wed. June 14 and Friday June 16 are listed for early release.
    For inclement weather, 2-hour late starts are not made up.
    If school is closed for inclement weather, there are make up days scheduled, most of them tacked on at end of June, after June 19, which is listed as a “Non Student Attendance Day”, where no direct in person instruction is available apparently. Key time for students struggling to complete assignments, or tests.
    High school graduations start 10 days before the last day of classes.
    Transportation costs are the same for early release short days as for longer days, which wastes resources and pollutes more as well as robbing students of instruction time.
    In addition, Teachers are paid for other non-instruction days such as in-service and grading days. Labor day now has 2 days off, and Thanksgiving vacation is 3 days off.
    Instruction time in public schools has decreased significantly over the years, and teacher pay increase demands, and illegal teacher strikes have increased.

  5. Maddy

    Strong-arming tactics by a bunch of extortionists holding our children’s education hostage. It’s time like these I wish we could call in a trained group of teachers who haven’t been spoiled and poisoned against the very children they serve to pick up where the greedy, liberal, apathetic teachers left off. To see the look on their faces when they’re told they’re liberated. They can stay home until they can’t, or go teach at a school in anchorage for half the pay. We’ve found a replacement, and it’s anyone but you! Kick rocks terror-teachers. .

  6. Kenneth Boren

    Fire them get someone who wants to teach.Since covid crisis these teachers have gotten to big for britchs.Most seam to be social activist payed by the taxpayers.They think that they know what is best for the children more so then thier parent’s. So they feel justified in an illegel strike fire them save money hire real teachers.

  7. Carol

    Why should anyone support the teacher’s illegal strike, when they are violating the Washington state law? Why would anyone want law breakers to teach their children? It is bad enough they are grooming the students for the indoctrination of the United Nation’s sexualization and transexual policies. Do these teachers think they are special and the law doesn’t apply to them?
    Teachers should be arrested and fined for violating of the state law. If this is not done, fire them!
    By law, all children in the US are required to get a free education. Striking teachers are useless when they are not doing their job. Students suffer more and get behind. While they are striking, I hope the teachers lose their income for unexcused time off.  
    Teachers can easily be replaced with more qualified educators. Home schooling parents have proven better educators than these master degree incompetent public servants. Educators had enough time taken off in the three-year COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.
    Teachers know the next pandemic will happen in the middle of September.  Infowars, Washington Post, US News Today, The Epoch Times, etc… many newspapers have reported this and Fauci warned us.  reported this.
    You tube: Sen. Ron Johnson: CDC Is HIDING mRNA Vaccine Injury …
    34 minutes into this video Sen Johnson talks about the teacher’s union interfering with the Covid lockdowns. The teacher’s union was lobbied by Black Rock to wear masks and 6 feet apart with no scientific data to prove it works!
    Isn’t it in the teacher’s contract they can’t strike because the are government workers, paid for by the resident’s property tax? Isn’t it federal law that all children should be educated? These teachers have shown they can’t teach. Look at the grades. People get raises when the public can see values in your work.  Fire them all if they break the law.


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