Physical confrontation breaks out over Tacoma teacher strike



Posted on September 20, 2011 at 11:44 AM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 20 at 11:16 PM

TACOMA, Wash. - The Tacoma School District has canceled classes for Wednesday as the teacher strike continues.

On Tuesday morning, Tacoma fire and police were called to Stewart Middle School after a man apparently upset with the strikers started 'throwing elbows' at teachers.

No one was seriously injured, but one teacher was taken to the hospital.

The man claimed he was a grandfather whose grandkids were going hungry because of the strike.

He ran into the school and yelled at administrators and then started yelling at teachers and reportedly started throwing elbows in the middle of the picket line.

Several teachers say he hit them with his elbows or his shoulders while they walked in the picket line. The union does not plan to press charges for assault.

Teachers say the man claimed that if they didn't go back to work, he was going to throw himself into traffic and blame the teachers.

According to Tacoma police the man got dizzy while yelling at teachers and fell down.

A union officer said this was the first incident involving a physical confrontation with anyone upset about the strike since it started last Tuesday. 

Negotiations resumed Tuesday afternoon with a state mediator, after going to 2:15 in the morning.

Wednesday would be the seventh day without school in Tacoma, Washington's third-largest district with 28,000 students and 1,900 teachers.

Teachers are striking in violation of a court order.

Tacoma Public Schools on Monday donated 14,500 pounds of food from school kitchens to the Emergency Food Network to be distributed to Tacoma-area food banks