Teachers in Tacoma, Washington, hold picket signs outside a school last week.
Patrick Oppmann/CNN
Teachers in Tacoma, Washington, hold picket signs outside a school last week.

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Teachers in Tacoma vote to end eight-day strike

Classes will resume Friday for 28,000 students

More than 2,000 teachers were away from work

Seattle CNN —  

Teachers in Tacoma, Washington, will return to the classroom Friday after voting to end their eight-day strike over class sizes and proposed pay cuts, the school district announced Thursday.

Gov. Christine Gregoire helped referee the feud between the Tacoma school district and striking teachers. The impasse, which kept 28,000 students from classrooms, was resolved with a tentative agreement Wednesday. The system’s 2,000 teachers had left the classroom for the picket line after negotiations for a new contract broke down.

The teachers union had pushed for smaller class sizes, asking for one fewer student per classroom. Class size will remain the same, said school district spokesman Dan Voelpel. But teachers will not face a pay cut; the district wanted them to take a 1.35% cut. In place of the pay cut, teachers will sacrifice one day a year of professional development.

A joint committee appointed by the district and union will determine how teachers are transferred, Voelpel told CNN. Currently, a teacher’s seniority determines assignments.

Union spokesman Rich Wood said that 98.9% of the teachers ratified the deal.

Negotiations at Gregoire’s office lasted about seven hours Wednesday.

“This agreement provides a long-term solution, meets the districts needs and ensures teachers remain proud to report to their classroom every day,” the governor said in a statement.

Last week, a state judge ordered the union and school district to restart stalled negotiations and told striking teachers to get back into the classroom. But the teachers, who have rejected proposals for a new three-year contract, continued their protests.

The agreement ends school district litigation against teachers, according to Voelpel.

Across Washington, state services cuts are in the works after the governor’s office last week said the state is expected to collect $1.4 billion less in revenue between now and June 2013 than previously forecast.