The Nose

The Nose: Our back to work, back to school (except in Seattle) edition

The Tacoma school strike of 2011 was a bona fide street party. Teachers even brought wieners.
The Tacoma school strike of 2011 was a bona fide street party. Teachers even brought wieners. Staff file, 2011

They’re marching by the thousands in Seattle. They could be mistaken for zombies, if not for their matching T-shirts, strongly held principles and chips on their shoulders.

And the sight of them is enough to send a shiver of déjà vu through our Schnoz.

Was it really just four years ago that Tacoma teachers walked the picket line?

Ah yes, we remember it well.

The strike of 2011 caused angry words to fly like JBLM artillery shells between administrators, parents and teachers. A Pierce County Superior Court judge who intervened was left to lament the “awful things” being said on both sides of the divide.

Goldfish were left to suffer in darkened classrooms. And the children of T-Town were condemned to spend long afternoons of extended summer at the Washington State Fair.

The madness didn’t end until Gov. Chris Gregoire got involved and busted some chops. With the subtlety of a mafia don, she pulled the cranky factions into her office and instructed them to make the peace after eight days without school.

Fast forward to 2015 and the governor’s chair is occupied by Jay Inslee, who’s about as intimidating as Fredo Corleone.

Needless to say, Seattle families might want to prepare for the labor unrest dragging on till Christmas.

There are several other striking differences this time around, including:

▪ Show us the money: Seattle teachers have gone on the offensive by demanding big raises after going six years without one. They say they can’t afford to live in the neighborhoods where they teach.

My, what a difference four years and 35 miles make. Tacoma teachers were playing defense and simply trying to prevent a pay cut, among other grievances.

Heck, they couldn’t afford to visit the northlands for an afternoon at Westlake Center, let alone live up there.

▪ Let the children play: Seattle teachers asked for longer recess times for elementary school kids. And in the first concession offered by the administration, they got it.

Tacoma teachers never made that part of their bargaining. They must’ve figured if the little nippers want an extra 10 minutes on the monkey bars, they can form their own union.

▪ Open the sardine can: Seattle teachers aren’t arguing specifically for smaller class sizes, but Tacoma teachers did. And man, did they hit that one out of the park.

For eight whole days, class sizes were zero.

Play ball!: The Seattle teachers strike does have one important thing in common with the Tacoma walkout.

Textbooks will remain unopened, desks unoccupied and brains unsmartified. But Friday night football games will carry on as usual.

It’s all about having priorities and sticking to them, people.

 
Kam Chancellor

Speaking of football: The Seattle Seahawks and their loyal Twelves will pack their lunch pails and go back to work for real this weekend.

All of them, that is, except strong safety Kam Chancellor. He’s holding out for an extra delivery of cash from the Brink’s truck, despite having fulfilled only two years of a five-year contract extension.

Coincidentally, Tacoma teachers are entering the second year of the five-year deal they negotiated in 2014.

Let’s hope they don’t hire Chancellor’s agent in the offseason.

Kilmer in your coffee: Also returning to work this week is the U.S. Congress, featuring our own Rep. Derek Kilmer of Giggles Harbor.

The second-term Democrat stopped by Tacoma last week to do something called Kilmer Rides a Bus. He’s previously starred in similar adventures such as Kilmer at the Park, Kilmer at Your Company and Kilmer on Your Dock.

 
Derek Kilmer

It’s either a grassroots campaign strategy or a series of children’s books, we’re not sure which.

The sophomore pol also was scheduled to shadow a Starbucks barista in downtown Tacoma. Thank goodness it was canceled.

Not because we think congressmen should go back to D.C. for serious work, like lifting Iran sanctions and avoiding a government shutdown.

Because we don’t want them making decisions we really care about.

Like how much foam to put in our latte.

Hear, hear!: We close today’s column with a shout-out to the Tacoma Police Department. Its officers are trying to build trust in diverse neighborhoods by embarking on a two-month listening tour, called Project Peace.

The best part? They’re doing this round of listening face to face, without the aid of a StingRay cellphone tracking device.

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