Thursday May 21st the Tri-City area schools will be silent, as over 80 percent (on average) of teachers voted to heed the advice of the teacher's union (WEA) and stage a one-day walkout.   Much has been said about the difference between a strike and a walk-out.  Are they still legal?

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson says teachers do NOT have the right by state law to stage a formal multi-day strike; usually marked by people working picket lines with signs asking the other party to meet their terms.

However, as we understand it, one day walk-outs are not prohibited by state law. Here's where it gets interesting.

We looked through the entire collective bargaining agreements that were certified for Richland, Pasco and Kennewick School Districts.  On the subject of strikes or lockouts, we saw nothing addressed about that in the Pasco or Kennewick contract agreements.  We did find this statement in the Richland contract, Section 1-E:

"The parties agree that during the term of this Contract there shall be no strike or other economic action by the Association and there shall be no lockout or other economic action by the District. In case of an impending statewide work stoppage, the Association and the District will meet to consider modifying the school calendar."  (Bold lettering added for emphasis).
  Apparently the definition of economic action is not specifically listed; the contract does not say walk-outs are specifically prohibited.
 However, in other areas of the state, as reported by the Washington Policy Center,  walk-outs are illegal; namely Spokane and Seattle:
 Liv Finne, who is an education policy expert for the Policy Center, testified Tuesday in Olympia about Senate Bill 6116, which would withhold teacher pay and benefits in the event of strikes or walkouts.  According to the WPC,  labor contracts are negotiated between the school district and the local teacher's union, in Kenenwick's case, the Kennewick Education Association.
  Spokane and Seattle have specific clauses in their contracts forbidding such activities:
According to WPC:
*The Spokane Collective bargaining agreement has a clause that states: "No strike..."  in which union executives agree they will "not authorize, condone, sanction,  or take part in any strike, walkout, or work stoppage."  
  The Seattle Collective Bargaining Agreement says:  "No Strike Clause"...union executives will not "cause or encourage it's members to engage in any strike or other work stoppage."  (that would include a walkout).
 Media sources were full of pictures and stories recently about the massive Seattle-area walkout that took place, thousands of teachers marching.
  However, other than what we found in the Richland agreement, the issue of strikes or walkouts is largely left unaddressed  in the Tri-Cities.

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