On the Picket Line

Washington paraeducators gain teachers support, wage raise

By Michele Smith
December 2, 2019

SUMNER, Wash — Paraeducators, who work alongside teachers in the classroom, won a pay raise after a strike Oct. 25-28 against the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District here.

The 200 workers, members of Paraeducators Associated, were joined by members of the Washington Education Association, the teachers union, on the picket lines. As a result the school board called off classes for nearly 10,000 students in all of their 14 schools.

“We have to support one another,” middle school teacher Sara Sage told the Militant on a solidarity march and rally Oct. 25, “because we can’t do our job without the ‘paras’ and they can’t do their job without us.”

The paraeducators union says workers’ wages were $2-$3 an hour below neighboring school districts. The new contract includes a wage increase of about 12.5% in 2019-20 and 2 percent the following year.