Ingrid Garhart of SVSD (left) and Shannon Smith of Snoqualmie Elementary (right) pose for a photo while picketing at the street corner of City Hall for a fair contract for district secretaries. Madison Miller/staff photo.

Ingrid Garhart of SVSD (left) and Shannon Smith of Snoqualmie Elementary (right) pose for a photo while picketing at the street corner of City Hall for a fair contract for district secretaries. Madison Miller/staff photo.

Snoqualmie Valley secretaries picket for ‘living wages’ outside of city hall

Snoqualmie Valley secretaries have been working without a current contract for almost two months.

Snoqualmie Valley School District (SVSD) secretaries have been without a current contract for about two months.

While the current Snoqualmie Valley Administrative Secretaries Association (SVASA) contract expired Aug. 31, 2018, it is automatically extended through Aug. 31, 2019 in the absence of a successor agreement by Washington State law.

SVASA has been negotiating with SVSD since March on a successor agreement, but have yet to reach a tentative agreement. The district said the bargaining process was partially delayed by the availability of the district team in August and the SVASA team in September and October.

SVASA is wanting the district to pay their secretaries a “living wage,” according to SVASA president, Karen Seiser.

“A living wage means earning enough to pay for basic necessities: rent, food, utilities, childcare, healthcare and transportation. People who work full time should not have to live below the poverty line, nor should they have to hold multiple jobs or give up choices for themselves and their family because of financial hardships,” Seiser said.

SVSD teachers, secretaries, members of Snoqualmie Valley Education Association (SVEA) and Public School Employees (PSE) and other supporters formed an informal picket in front of City Hall before the Oct. 23 school board meeting. As cars passed by, a member chanted, “I say fair, you say now.”

“These secretaries are the beating heart of our schools,” Jim Ullman, a teacher at Twin Falls Middle School, said. “They’re the first point of contact for all students, parents… They’re the first person you talk to when you come to school.”

Rebekah McFarland, also a teacher at Twin Falls Middle School, said the way secretaries are treated in the district is unfair.

“Everyone else got their raises — teachers and administrators — and now it’s their turn,” she said. “They’re going way beyond the call of duty everyday to make everything run smoothly.”

According to Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) , secretaries in SVSD earn the least in comparison to neighboring school districts such as Lake Washington, Bellevue and Issaquah with their hourly wages averaging at $20.94.

Angela Krpata, a secretary for Chief Kanim Middle School, said she just wants secretaries to receive equal pay for the work they do.

“We deserve a substantial raise of four or five dollars,” she said.

Shannon Smith, a secretary to the principal at Snoqualmie Elementary School, stood on the street corner holding a sign that said, “SVASA Fair Contract Now!”

“The lack of respect we’re given by the district is just…they have no idea how many hours we put in,” she said. “They say we’re a dime a dozen, like we’re dispensable. I’m just so sad I have to be here and fighting for something that we should have.”

The district’s most recent proposal stands at a 14-percent increase in hourly wages over a three-year contract, with additional enhancements to vacation and health care benefits. Seiser said it’s closer to what they’re asking for, but not enough.

“We want a two-year contract that allows us to renegotiate after the two-year legislative budget cycle,” she said. “Our teachers received an average 16.7-percent raise this school year. The district is offering a lower increase for secretaries and doing it over the next three years. That is unacceptable.”

During the public comments period of the school board meeting, three members from SVASA delivered short statements to the board, venting their frustration. A bag of treats was delivered to each board member containing a Payday candy bar, a glue stick, a dime and tums and a member read aloud the following message.

“We sincerely thank you for your service on our school board and for the support you provide our families and students. In the spirit of October, we are delivering this bag of treats. In your bag are: a Payday candy bar because SVASA deserves a living wage that is not based on similar underpaid comparable positions in other districts. [A] glue stick because SVASA is the glue that holds the school and the district buildings together. [A] dime because we have been told we are a dime a dozen, and many people apply for SVASA open positions. [And] Tums because we are sick to our stomachs that the district continues to demonstrate that we aren’t worth a living wage.”

Seiser said that all they are asking is that the district invest the new state funding the way “it was intended — in professional pay for Snoqualmie Valley educators.”

The district and SVASA will meet again on Nov. 7 for further bargaining. The district said it “remains optimistic that a fair solution can be reached soon, and hopes for a productive discussion at the next session.”


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@valleyrecord.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.valleyrecord.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

SVSD teachers, secretaries, SVEA and PSE members, and other supporters picket in front of Snoqualmie Valley City Hall before the Oct. 23 school board meeting for living wages of district secretaries. Madison Miller/staff photo.

SVSD teachers, secretaries, SVEA and PSE members, and other supporters picket in front of Snoqualmie Valley City Hall before the Oct. 23 school board meeting for living wages of district secretaries. Madison Miller/staff photo.

SVSD teachers, secretaries, SVEA and PSE members, and other supporters picket in front of Snoqualmie Valley City Hall before the Oct. 23 school board meeting for living wages of district secretaries. Madison Miller/staff photo.

SVSD teachers, secretaries, SVEA and PSE members, and other supporters picket in front of Snoqualmie Valley City Hall before the Oct. 23 school board meeting for living wages of district secretaries. Madison Miller/staff photo.

SVASA delivered a bag of treats to the school board members Oct. 23, saying “It is clear that saying ‘we value our people’ is not the same as ‘proving we value our people.’” Photo courtesy of Snoqualmie Valley Education Association—SVEA Facebook page.

SVASA delivered a bag of treats to the school board members Oct. 23, saying “It is clear that saying ‘we value our people’ is not the same as ‘proving we value our people.’” Photo courtesy of Snoqualmie Valley Education Association—SVEA Facebook page.

SVSD teachers, secretaries, SVEA and PSE members, and other supporters overcrowd the Oct. 23 school board meeting at City Hall. Madison Miller/staff photo.

SVSD teachers, secretaries, SVEA and PSE members, and other supporters overcrowd the Oct. 23 school board meeting at City Hall. Madison Miller/staff photo.

More in News

Valley Shuttle. Photo courtesy of Snoqualmie Valley Transportation’s Facebook page.
Five-year transit plan in the works for the valley

Snoqualmie Valley Transportation outlines multiple goals for area’s towns and cities.

A site plan for the Snoqualmie Valley Athletic Center. Provided by the city of North Bend
Snoqualmie Valley Athletic Center could be completed by February

Construction on the project is expected to begin on Sept. 14.

Seven decades later, the search for two missing Navy pilots continues

The pilots are thought to have disappeared near Black Lake, northeast of North Bend.

The truck of the Renton family as it was found Tuesday. While fleeing the Cold Springs Fire two adults were severely burned and one toddler died. Courtesy photo/Okanogan Sheriff’s Office
Toddler killed as Renton family flees Cold Springs Fire

The parents were severely burned and are being treated at Harborview Medical Center

A view of the Palmer Fire, located seven miles southwest of Oroville in north central Washington. Source: InciWeb
Antifa isn’t starting Washington wildfires

Online conspiracy theories are spreading as the West Coast burns.

A plane drops fire retardant on the Palmer Mountain Fire last week. The fire is listed as 84 percent contained, and fully lined. Laura Knowlton/Sound Publishing staff photo
Threat multiplier: How climate change, coronavirus and weather are scorching WA

Dry summer conspired with the pandemic and a wind storm.

Screenshot from the state Employment Security Department’s website at esd.wa.gov.
Workers may qualify for an extra $1,500 in unemployment back pay

A federal program will give some of the state’s unemployed a $300 weekly bump for the past five weeks.

Screenshot of the air quality monitor at 11 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 8. Courtesy Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.
King County faces unhealthy air quality due to wildfire smoke

Weather monitors recommend people limit time outdoors, especially children, seniors and those with heart or lung disease.

Most Read