Portland Association of Teachers plans strike vote

Portland Association of Teachers plans strike vote

PORTLAND, Ore. – Oregon’s largest school district is reportedly one step closer to its first teacher strike.

The Portland Association of Teachers has informed the superintendent that it will hold a strike vote on Wednesday.

If teachers approve a strike, state law requires the union give Portland Public Schools ten days notice before teachers walk out. Negotiations can continue during that time.

The union and school district are scheduled to meet with state mediators on Friday.

The two sides have not returned KATU’s requests for specific comment.

Portland Superintendent Carol Smith released a statement Thursday evening:

Last night, the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) announced that they will hold a strike vote next Wednesday.  While PAT has chosen to take a step toward a strike, bargaining teams are meeting with a state mediator tomorrow in continuing negotiations.

I know that a strike would be extremely disruptive for your student and your family.  I want you to know that if a strike should occur, our goal would be to keep schools open.

If the teachers vote to strike, PAT must give our school district a 10-day notice prior to a work stoppage. If that happens, you will receive more information from your school.  Also, a hotline will be available to answer your questions.

For more than 10 months, PPS has been working to reach an agreement with PAT that is in the best interests of Portland’s students. The school board has refrained from taking unilateral action to impose working conditions on our teachers. We have stayed true to our commitment to reach a settlement at the table.

Our goal is to reach an agreement that adds teachers, adds school days and helps Portland retain and recruit the best teachers for our classrooms.

To learn more about what PPS has offered, click here. You can find both sides’ proposals and other information on our PAT Contract Talks web page. 

Thank you for your patience as we work hard toward negotiating a new agreement for Portland’s teachers.

Earlier this month, contract talks stalled over what should be done with a budget surplus of nearly $20 million. Teachers said that was more than enough to pay for the 175 new teachers they requested. District spokesman Robb Cowie said that money had already been put aside for 88 new teachers, savings, and an anticipated budget shortfall in the 2015-2016 school year.

This week, the school board voted use millions of surplus dollars to pay for 30 more teaching positions, but teachers said that wasn’t enough.

Overcrowded classrooms and heavy teacher work load are the main sticking points in negotiations.