Seattle teachers will hit the picket lines on Wednesday on what would have been the first day of school this fall for tens of thousands of students after voting to strike over pay, staffing and mental health support.
The Seattle Teachers Association, a labor union representing more than 6,000 teachers, paraprofessionals and office workers, on Tuesday said that 95% of its members who submitted a ballot voted to go on strike.
"The district needs to meet student needs NOW! Our bargaining team is still at the table and we are still working toward an agreement," the union said in a Twitter post late Tuesday night.
Seattle Public Schools in a statement said it was optimistic that the bargaining teams will "come to a positive solution" for students and staff.
The strike means the cancellation of the first day of school for 47,000 students in the district, the largest public school system in the state. Teachers are expected to march in picket lines at many of the system's 110 schools on Wednesday.
The district said it would serve meals for students at several schools and after-school activities will continue during the work stoppage.
The strike is the latest in a wave of work stoppages in school districts across the United States in recent years, with teachers demanding salary and benefit increases, beefed-up staffing and improved working conditions.
Seattle teachers are calling for an increase in pay, staffing ratios to be maintained or improved for special and multilingual education, and an increase in the number of counselors and social workers who work in the district.
The strike follows a four-day work stoppage by teachers in Columbus, Ohio, two weeks ago over class sizes and for guaranteed air conditioning in classrooms.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Chicago; Editing by Mark Porter)