Union teachers in the southwest Washington city of Kelso have voted to defy a judge's order, and won't leave picket lines Tuesday.
A Cowlitz County judge had ruled in favor of the Kelso School District, and approved an injunction against the teachers' strike. But Kelso reading coach and union spokesperson Sandy DeBruler says her members voted 221-20 not to go along.
"You could just feel it in the air that our teachers said, 'Look, if we go back in the classroom, we're still going to be working without a contract,'" DeBruler said.
DeBruler said the two sides are very close to agreement, with one main compensation issue remaining to be resolved. She said teachers are looking for pay increases over the next three years to cover a slightly longer instructional day. She said the district is willing to do that for only two years.
Calls to the Kelso School District haven't been returned.
Both sides have said they are focused on reaching an agreement.
A statement on the Kelso School District web site said that's the reason the Kelso school board has canceled Monday's meeting.
"The board’s highest priority right now is focused on teacher negotiations and as such normal board business is temporarily ceased,” School Board President Patty Wood said.
"The board has been meeting in exempt sessions regularly, taking note of community input and balancing the needs of our school district," she said. "Our foremost interest is in finding a deal that will bring our teachers back to the classroom within a sustainable budget."
The Kelso Education Association says it intends to maintain the strike until its bargaining team announces a tentative agreement.
Both sides have said they're expecting to be back in Cowlitz County court Wednesday morning. Union leaders say they're hoping to have a tentative agreement before then.