Teacher strikes, unrest hit West Coast as unions flex muscle

SEATTLE (AP) — Fights over teacher salaries and working conditions are escalating along the West Coast, emboldened in part by the momentum from strikes in more conservative states.

The disputes are particularly acute in Washington, a state that has infused at least $1 billion for teacher pay to resolve a long-running court battle. With students returning to school in the last few weeks, teachers in at least 18 public school districts so far have voted to authorize a strike, gone on strike or settled their strikes in order to get pay raises.

In California, teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District — the nation’s second-largest — also voted last week to authorize a strike.

The teachers on the West Coast are tapping into a shift in public sentiment that supports better wages for teachers that came with a “Red4Ed” movement that began earlier this year in West Virginia.