OAN’s Stephanie Stahl
11:04 AM – Monday, November 6, 2023
Public school teachers in Portland, Oregon, are the latest workers to join the picket lines amid a growing organized labor movement that has rocked the United States this year.
On Monday, the Oregon school district canceled its third day of classes.
Negotiations are ongoing between the district and the Portland Association of Teachers, which represents more than 4,000 educators. The union organized a strike in response to several key issues, such as a need for “higher wages” and a “cap on classroom sizes.”
“Our kids deserve more than teachers that are absolutely exhausted and at the end of their ropes,” Sarah Trapido, a special education teacher at Kellogg Middle School said.
The district serves more than 49,000 students across 81 schools in Oregon’s largest city, according to its website.
The strike also marks the first time that teachers have walked off the job in the Oregon school district. The union has reportedly been in talks with the district for a new contract for the past several months. The previous contract expired in June.
Last week, Thursday and Friday classes were canceled. On Saturday, union members warned that if an agreement was not reached by Sunday, picket lines would resume at school sites at 8 a.m. on Monday.
The school district condemned the union’s proposal, saying that it would prompt hundreds of millions of dollars in additional spending and it would also mean more staffing cuts. In June, Oregon lawmakers approved a $10.2 billion K-12 budget for the next two years, however, school district representatives said that amount was not even enough.
“Funding has not kept pace with the needs of our students, nor our educators,” Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero told reporters on Wednesday. “We strive to offer a compensation that attracts and retains talent. But unlike a private organization, we don’t have record profits we can tap into.”
During the strike, class sessions and online instruction have been suspended. Guerrero announced that the district plans to convene with the union and a state mediator on Friday.
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