Mat-Su teachers authorize strike as district and union go back to bargaining table

Class desks in front of clear windows with alternated yellow and blue tints
A classroom at Dena’ina Elementary School, part of the Mat-Su School District (Mat-Su School District photo)

Mat-Su School District employees voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike amid ongoing negotiations with the school board. 

Eighty-five percent of all members of the Mat-Su Education Association voted to strike, according to a vote that was certified by the Anchorage League of Women Voters. 

“MSEA considers it a mandate,” said Dianne Schibe, president of MSEA. Schibe said that the actual number of those in favor might be even higher, since some people weren’t able to participate. 

While the vote was overwhelming, it doesn’t necessarily mean a strike will happen. District officials and union representatives are meeting Monday morning to negotiate a compromise that could avoid a strike. 

At issue for teachers are teachers’ salaries, which MSEA said haven’t kept up with inflation, and health insurance, which the union said doesn’t give teachers adequate control. 

Schibe said she’s hopeful the two parties can reach an agreement as soon as possible. 

“We always hoped to come to a resolution today, always,” she said. 

Last week, a survey by MSEA showed most teachers were ready to strike, though it didn’t carry the same authority as the vote tally that was announced on Monday. The union represents around 1300 employees.