The last of seven Southwest Washington teacher strikes ended Sept. 17 when teachers in Battle Ground began classes. Their strike settlement was reached one day after they voted by 89 percent to defy a judge’s order to return to work. The strike in Battle Ground lasted 13 school days, making it the longest of 15 teacher strikes that took place in Washington this year. Teachers at East Vancouver’s Evergreen School District ended their strike Sept. 10, and teachers at Longview ended theirs Sept. 11.
At the height of the strike wave, as many as 8,000 Washington teachers were walking picket lines — 5,000 of them in Southwest Washington. Teachers struck in districts where superintendents tried to hold on to funds the Legislature had granted for long-overdue teacher raises: Battle Ground, Longview, Vancouver, Washougal, Ridgefield, Hockinson, and Evergreen. In the end, all the struck Southwest Washington districts agreed to raises of over 10 percent.
Teacher unity was overwhelming in every district. The strike votes by members of the Washington Education Association, and later contract ratification votes, passed with over 90 percent support, even unanimously in some cases. And teachers found massive public support on picket lines and rallies like the one that filled Vancouver’s Esther Short park Sept. 7.