Labor Community Calls for Student Meals to be Offered at City Properties
September 7, 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Charlie Lapham, MLK Labor Communications Director
MLK Labor issued the following joint statement alongside the unions listed below, who represent workers in SPS and Community Centers, regarding the distribution of meals at Seattle School properties behind the Seattle Education Association picket line.
“The strike is the most powerful tool a worker has to improve their working conditions and quality of life as well as to have their voice heard. Choosing to go on strike with our colleagues is the hardest decision that many workers will make. When we strike, we are putting our livelihoods on the line to protect the dignity of our work. There are no guarantees with a strike. Our success is entirely dependent on unwavering solidarity with our co-workers and community.
To an educator, this decision carries even more weight. Seattle Education Association members care deeply about their students and know the burden that closing schools put on families who rely on them for much more than an education. Seattle educators considered many factors this week when they decided to go on strike, but ultimately the decision was made because they knew it was the only way to convince the district to provide the staffing and support services that students need. Sometimes in order for things to get better, we need to take a stand.
This morning should have been the first day of school for thousands of students but instead of being in the classroom, educators are picketing outside of their work sites to demand a fair contract. Teamster truck drivers, union construction workers, and others who work at schools have respected the SEA picket lines by refusing to cross them. To a union worker, this is a sacred act of respect. Crossing a picket line sends a message of contempt to the striking workers.
Unfortunately, Seattle Public Schools made the decision to distribute meals to students inside school buildings this morning. This means nutrition workers and families must cross picket lines in order to ensure children get fed. The district had ample time to prepare for the strike and work with the City of Seattle to set up meal centers at non-school facilities, as happened in 2015. Instead, they chose to force thousands of families to cross a picket line in order to feed their children.
Educators and unions support the program to distribute meals until a fair contract has been reached and schools are reopened. However, the labor community demands that these not be set up behind picket lines. As has been done in past work stoppages, meals should be distributed at Community Centers and other City-owned properties.
We deeply appreciate Mayor Harrell and the City of Seattle for stepping up to provide recreation drop-in centers starting on Monday and hope this is extended to providing meals to students.
Seattle Educators are deeply appreciative of the outpouring of support from the Seattle community, parents, students, and the other union members. While the district was unprepared this morning, we need this to be remedied as early as tomorrow.”
Seattle Education Association
Seattle Building & Construction Trades Council
Teamsters Joint Council No. 28
International Union of Operating Engineers 302
MLK Labor is the central body of labor organizations in King County, Washington. We are affiliated with the National AFL-CIO, the central labor organization in the United States, representing more than 13 million working people. We represent more than 150 unions and 100,000 workers. United, we are a voice for the interests and needs of working people in King County.