HONK FOR SUPPORT — Paraeducators are presently in contract negotiations with the School District as their three year contract is set to expire at the end of the month.

SUNNYSIDE – Paraeducators of Public School Employees (PSE) of Washington SEIU Local 1948, chose to demonstrate their unified position out front of the district offices at 1110 S. 6th St. last Wednesday, August 7.

They are presently in contract negotiations with the School District and over the past four months have not seen much progress made.

As their three year contract is set to expire at the end of the month, about 30 teacher’s aides wearing blue union shirts, along with a few of their kids and baby strollers in tow, held up signs to raise awareness of their message – to encourage community support with a resonating honk for their role in the education system.

“Our last couple of sessions with the Sunnyside School District have not seen a lot of movement. This session today only lasted for like 20 minutes,” PSE Field Representative Justine Shatney explained after she met with union members who had been wielding their energized message to motorists driving up and down the thoroughfare since 9 a.m.

According to Shatney, during their previous meeting from a couple of weeks ago, they presented a wage proposal to school officials which was not accepted. The district maintained their offer and both sides took a break.

“We came back, we countered our own counter. So, we came down off of our counter and presented that. The district said, ‘no, we maintain,’” she stated.

When union leaders met with the School District today, they expected to see some movement from them but there was none, Shatney disclosed. She said the district only provided additional reasons on why they maintain their wage proposal.

Both parties entered into formal and confidential discussions in April with a shared goal of a formalizing an agreement before the end of their current contract. Should negotiations continue past August, the current agreement remains in place, Sunnyside Superintendent Kevin McKay acknowledged.

“Both parties can’t find an agreement at this time but we’re still working at it hard,” McKay confirmed.

Shatney disclosed that Chapter President Rich Perry was still inside informing district officials they were preparing to file for mediation. “We will be planning more actions like this but bigger and better on this side of things,” she noted.”

Patrick Shelby can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 110 or email PShelby@SunnysideSun.com

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