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Seattle teachers vote to lift strike after tentative deal reached with district

The Seattle Education Association voted Tuesday to suspend its teachers strike. Photo courtesy of Seattle Education Association/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/SeattleEA/posts/pfbid0E7LQZgwvBaY7Y8VV1FdhRxU8Ttfsy7DvFXyfby573n7msENemk6LQKeKtFCdZg79l?__cft__[0]=AZXYJgLJ2VQaB-uADOsrOlUQD1beyA5hPSU087uSYH2oWpgEBQZVuxajBQwinXOcNExrooJhQNKTf6NQqJ6RKOjWbzYh0eVf1ZIRZVsbuXtBHhddxYjDaXjMIk8_ZVyIGQKY8icWBxketJ3Bp5NJdWYJ3TaojsdioL58GiR_y3czvA&amp;__tn__=%2CO%2CP-R">Facebook</a>
The Seattle Education Association voted Tuesday to suspend its teachers strike. Photo courtesy of Seattle Education Association/Facebook

Sept. 13 (UPI) -- Seattle teachers voted Tuesday to end their strike after their union reached a tentative agreement on a new contract with Washington state's largest school district a night earlier.

The Seattle Education Association said Tuesday evening of the 78% of its members who participated in the vote, 57% approved the motion to suspend the strike which has delayed the start of the 2022-23 school year for almost a week.

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"We came together and showed our strength on the picket lines and in our community, and now the membership has made our voices heard that we're ready to get back to our students," the union said in a statement.

Seattle Public Schools confirmed in its own statement that the start of the academic year has now been scheduled for Wednesday.

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"We are excited to welcome students to the first day of school for the 2022-23 school year," the district said.

The union vote was held after Monday's announcement that it had reached a tentative agreement with the school district, paving the way to end the strike.

The school board announced the agreement in a brief statement that said the conditions were being kept confidential.

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The Seattle Education Association explained the agreement is for a three-year contract that includes pay raises while maintaining special education ratios, improving other unspecified areas and adding baseline mental health staff to all schools.

"We stuck together, made our strength and unity known and our action worked," the Seattle Education Association said in a statement. "Our solidarity on the picket lines and the enormous community support we received made all the difference.

"We should all be proud of what we accomplished and what we stood up for: student supports and respect for educators."

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Jennifer Matter, Seattle Education Association president, said in a video posted to Facebook late Monday that a second vote is to be held to ratify the agreement once its language is finalized.

"This is huge," she said.

The announcement comes after the two sides failed to come to an agreement over the weekend forcing schools to remain closed on Monday, further delaying the school year that had been scheduled to start last Wednesday when more than 6,000 teachers walked off the job.

The walkout was in demand of higher teachers' pay and improved support for students with special needs.

"We know this has been a challenging week for our community, especially families," the school district, which serves some 50,000 students in Seattle, said Tuesday. "We are happy to have reached an agreement and ready to start the school year."

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