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Portland teachers strike closes class through Thanksgiving holiday

Disagreement between the Portland Association of Teachers and Portland Public Schools has prevented students from attending class since the strike began on Nov. 1.

Published: November 22, 2023 11:00pm

(The Center Square) -

Teachers in Portland have been on strike 16 days and continue to be at odds going into the Thanksgiving holiday as the union and district are still at odds over class sizes, teacher pay and discipline policies.

Disagreement between the Portland Association of Teachers and Portland Public Schools has prevented students from attending class since the strike began on Nov. 1. The union claimed to have reached a tentative agreement that was rejected by the school board on Monday.

On Tuesday morning, the teachers union shut down the Burnside Bridge, which connects East Portland to Old Town. The union said in a post on Facebook that the school board could get students in school next week by approving the bargaining agreement.

“Portland educators, families and allies will continue to peacefully protest to win a fair contract and continue to elevate the urgency of finalizing this contract to get our students and our schools the resources they need,” the union said on its Facebook.

“The PPS school board can approve the settlement their own bargaining team recommended and end the strike in a matter of minutes to get kids back in schools next week,” the union continued.

According to The Oregonian, property owned by two of the district’s board members had been vandalized after it rejected the proposal from the union and the district’s team. A car and a house were vandalized, according to that newspaper.

“PAT condemns vandalism,” the union said on Facebook.

The district says disagreement remains on three key issues: teacher workloads and class sizes, student discipline and compensation. The union’s proposal that was rejected by the board includes language creating committees to address overloaded classes and overload pay thresholds.

The union’s proposal also includes requirements for rapid responses to student incidents, an “alternative location for students in crisis who are at risk of harming themselves or others,” and that “a relevant and actionable Tier III intervention will be identified prior to a students scheduled returned to classroom.”

It also demands teacher compensation increases by 6.25% in 2023-24 school year, 4% in the 2024-25 school year and 3% in the 2025-26 school year. The district says there is “conceptual agreement” regarding these cost-of-living increases.

The district and union have tentatively agreed to 17 “memorandums of agreement,” with just the three holding up negotiations.

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