Portland, Ore. — Negotiations between the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) and Portland Public Schools persist throughout the weekend, as the strike initiated on Wednesday remains unresolved. The likelihood of schools reopening on Monday appears slim as the standoff continues.
In public statements on Saturday, the Portland Association of Teachers maintained an optimistic tone, describing the ongoing discussions as “constructive.” Conversations between the two sides focused on various issues, including class size, planning time, building conditions, student support, and safety concerns.
However, internal communications to union members presented a more somber outlook. PAT leaders expressed concerns, urging educators to be prepared to resume picketing at schools in the upcoming week. In a statement on Saturday night, the union highlighted the slow pace of bargaining and the necessity for written proposals from management, particularly regarding workload relief, to pave the way for a settlement.
District officials announced they would notify caregivers by 7 p.m. on Sunday regarding the status of school operations for Monday.
The strike within Portland Public Schools forms part of a series of educator labor actions prevalent in progressive cities along the West Coast. Other school districts and teachers’ unions in Oregon are closely observing the ongoing developments in Portland.
The discord between the two parties has persisted for months, with significant disparities in proposals concerning cost-of-living adjustments, independent planning time for teachers, and class size limits. The cost variance between the proposals over the three-year contract term amounts to approximately $200 million.
A critical impending deadline revolves around district-paid health insurance. Failure of teachers to return to work by mid-November jeopardizes their district-provided health coverage for the month of December. Nevertheless, striking workers may opt for continued health coverage under the federal COBRA program, enabling them to pay for health coverage for 18 months after leaving their job. In past instances, labor unions have assisted members in covering these costs until the strike’s resolution.