BATTLE GROUND, Wash. — Battle Ground teachers on Friday night voted to continue their strike, in defiance of a court order to return to work while negotiating a new contract.
The vote came after Clark County Judge Scott Collier issued a temporary injunction Friday morning, requiring Battle Ground School District teachers to return to work. The injunction is set to take effect on Monday.
No penalties were set during Friday's hearing for teachers who continue to strike. A hearing is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 21, to establish penalties, if needed.
The district argued that the strike was causing irreparable harm to students and and parents, holding them "hostage." The two sides remain $4 million apart, an impasse large enough for an end to the strike be forced away from the bargaining table.
"We just want to get our kids back in school," said Battle Ground superintendent Mark Ross. "We’ll have to talk to the board about how that will work on Monday. Our primary concern in getting our kids back to class."
The teachers' union argued that an outside end to the strike is not the simple call the district suggests. An injunction sways negotiations heavily in favor of the district, and the district is a party to the so-called irreparable harm, the union said.
Teachers in the district have been on strike for 12 days. The first day of school was originally scheduled for Aug. 29.
“Taking teachers to court is not a solution. It is a bully tactic and a distraction. The only place a fair settlement with competitive pay can be negotiated is at the bargaining table,” said Marina Heinz, a fourth-grade teacher.
The Longview school district recently asked a judge in Cowlitz County to issue a temporary injunction ordering striking teachers back to work. The judge granted the injunction, but the district and teachers reached a settlement before it could be enforced.
Teachers in the Tumwater, Washington, defied an injunction earlier this week. They could face contempt charges or fines for defying the court order.