Paraeducators approve strike if impasse continues with PASD

Deadline is April 8

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles Paraeducators Association has voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if its bargaining team and the Port Angeles School District are unable to reach an agreement on a new contract.

Almost 98 percent of the PAPEA membership who voted backed the proposal on Wednesday, setting in motion the possibility that paraeducators could walk off their jobs April 8. In November 2018, a paraeducator strike closed district schools for two days when teachers refused to cross the picket line.

“We hope that this will at least encourage them to go back to the table,” said PAPEA President Rebecca Winters, a paraeducator at Hamilton Elementary.

A representative with the school district said it had not received official notice from the PAPEA of a potential strike and that when it did, it would provide a response.

Paraeducators are demanding the same 3.7 percent IPD (implicit price deflator) wage increase set by the state Legislature in 2023 that Port Angeles Education Association members and the district agreed to in September.

The district has said it does not have the funds to meet the PAPEA’s demand because the state Legislature did not provide enough funding to cover the cost of across-the-board raises. It had already made $5 million in cuts last spring to meet its 2023-2024 budget.

The salary schedule in the paraeducators’ contract that expired Aug. 31 was based on 184 working days and paid an hourly wage ranging from $21.68 to $28.33 depending on years.

The PAPEA said its members needed to be compensated fairly and equitably for working with the district’s most mentally, physically and emotionally vulnerable students.

“We are considered educators,” Winters said.

Negotiations between the PAPEA and district began last summer and continued through December. The two sides requested a mediator from the Public Employment Relations Commission, who met with them on Feb. 7. That meeting failed to lead to an agreement and a second scheduled meeting was cancelled.

The PAPEA, the district and a Public Employment Relations Commission mediator are scheduled to meet Feb. 28 for another round of bargaining.


Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at