WEA president says teachers are getting paid enough

Sep 13, 2019

This morning Dave Ross of KIRO FM Radio interviewed Larry Delaney, the new WEA union president. Dave was surprised by his answers:    

Ross:               “Are teachers finally being paid fairly?

Delaney:          “Yes, we fought long and hard for professional compensation for educators across the state….

Ross:               “But you are generally happy?

Delaney:          “Yes. Generally happy. We are in a much better place now.

Ross:               “As the union president are you allowed to be happy with the salaries?

Delaney:          “Yes, absolutely we can be happy. We are in a much better place than we were ten years ago, five years ago, one year ago. And there’s going to be cost of living adjustments that have to occur. But with that we believe that we have the ability now to recruit and retain the best educators.

Ross:               “I have seen the pay schedule that teachers that top out after ten years is over $100,000.

Delaney:          “That’s correct.  

Ross:               “That sounds pretty good….

Delaney:          “We have to have competitive pay, and we’re there (Emphasis added).

This is surprising, to say the least. For years the WEA has demanded higher pay for teachers, and more money for the schools. For years the WEA has declared additional funding was not enough. Before today, the WEA has never expressed satisfaction with teacher pay or school funding. Until today, the WEA has demanded more and more money, and higher and higher taxes.

The legislature, responding to the WEA-funded 2012 McCleary decision and to demands from the WEA, has doubled state funding to the schools. School funding is at an all-time high of $16,000 per student on average statewide. Much of this new money has been used by districts to increase teacher pay, especially after the WEA’s illegal strikes closing schools in 14 different districts last fall.

It is hard to believe the WEA is finally satisfied.   

The burden of taxes on Washington’s citizens has dramatically increased, especially in property tax increases for schools. Legislative leaders are already discussing creating new taxes for the schools. Perhaps the WEA is concerned a taxpayer revolt is on the horizon, and is already trying to deflect blame.    

In 2018-19, average teacher pay in Washington state is $80,192, plus $28,805 in benefits. Five years ago, in 2013-14, average teacher pay in Washington state was $65,672, plus $20,787 in benefits. This is a 22 percent increase in five years.

In the meantime, some teachers may be unhappy to hear the WEA has decided they will not be getting any more pay increases. Under the one-size-fits-all union pay scale, the most effective, valuable and hardworking teachers are not rewarded with extra compensation.

Fortunately, teachers who disagree with WEA leadership are no longer forced to pay dues to the union as a condition of employment. Last year’s Janus decision from the U.S. Supreme Court gives teachers the right to opt out of this union. Teachers wishing to do so can learn more here.