Teachers reach tentative deal


Staff writer

After three months of negotiations and rumors of teacher strikes, Federal Way Public Schools and its teachers’ union have come to a tentative contract agreement.

The language of the agreement is to be finalized next Monday and Tuesday, and teacher ratification of the contract is scheduled for Thursday. A 50 percent majority, plus one additional approval from an educator who is a Washington Education Association member, is necessary for adoption of the contract.

“We kept hearing rumors of strike, but we don’t know where they were coming from,” said Mike Comstock, president of Federal Way Education Association. He speculated that the talk of possible strikes was coming from other school districts.

“Both sides (the Federal Way district and WEA bargaining representatives) worked very well together. And we worked collaboratively to come up with the tentative agreement that we have now,” Comstock said. He was a member of the bargaining team, which he said was unusual but necessary in this case.

Chuck Christensen, the district’s human resources director, said the district is also pleased with the tentative agreement, but he wouldn’t give any details of what is in the deal.

“The district and the association, prior to the process even starting, invested in some joint training of the two bargaining teams in what’s called collaborative interest-based bargaining,” Christensen said.

The district’s chief financial officer, Sally McLean, was involved in negotiations.

“We we were able to maintain that approach throughout all the talks. I felt us being a joint team, working collaboratively together,” Christensen said. “At this point, all major issues have been resolved.”

He said contract discussions were positive, cordial and productive.

Shannon Rasmussen, vice president of FWEA and chair of the bargaining support team, said teachers’ number one issue was adequate compensation and benefits. She added that the bargaining team has been happy with the contract negotiation process.

The Federal Way School Board is scheduled to vote to ratify the final contract in September. The union’s ratification meeting will take place next Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in the gym of Federal Way High School. Only union members can attend, officials said.

Staff writer Elizabeth Ciepiela: 925-5565,

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