PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Another all-day bargaining session between the Portland Public School District and the Portland Association of Teachers did not reach a deal — but the sides will exchange proposals on Sunday.
That’s the latest information from PPS representatives late Saturday night. The negotiations continued despite some back-and-forth earlier in the day when PPS said they planned to file an unfair labor practice against the PAT.
The district was upset after protesters rallied at the Oregon Convention Center where a school board member was attending a Metro retreat, according to a letter the district sent to the union.
In the letter, sent Nov. 8, PPS claims an estimated 1,000 PAT protesters marched from PAT offices to the convention center where Metro was holding the retreat.
The letter says PPS Board Member Andrew Scott was at the retreat in his role as Deputy Chief Operating Officer at Metro and as PAT protesters “surrounded” the convention center, they chanted slogans including, “’Andrew Scott you’re no good. Treat your teachers like you should!’”
PAT members had early entry to the convention center and opened secured doors for PAT protesters to enter the secured wing of the building where Scott and other Metro members were meeting, the letter states.
According to PPS, Scott evacuated the building and Metro members were traumatized from the protest.
The letter furthers that earlier that day, a group of 30-50 PAT protesters rallied outside of PPS Chief of Staff Jonathan Garcia’s home and “threateningly taunted him by asking him if their presence made him feel uncomfortable.”
PPS says PAT also planned to protest outside PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero’s home Nov. 9 while he bargained with the union.
The letter points out “if a labor union pickets the home or business of a member of a governing body with respect to a collective bargaining dispute, that may be grounds for an unfair labor practice charge.” PPS added the district is “evaluating other legal action that it may take to protect its employees and officials from PAT’s threats, violence and terrorism.”
The letter says PPS intends to file an unfair labor practice charge along with civil penalties unless by Nov. 9, PAT pledged to not engage in similar picketing activities.
PPS spokesperson Will Howell told KOIN 6 News he was not sure if the complaint was filed as, he said, the district’s focus was on negotiations.
In response, a lawyer representing PAT sent a letter to PPS lawyers saying the peaceful protest is protected under the Constitution and the Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act.
In the letter, PAT lawyer Noah Barish said “I will not take the time to respond to your hyperbole and gross exaggerations, not the least of which is referring to the peaceful activities of striking teachers, which are protected under the PECBA and Oregon and United States Constitutions, as ‘threats, violence and terrorism.'”
Barish furthers that PAT protesters did not violate Oregon law because the convention center is not a business owned by Scott, and says there has not been picketing at school board member homes or businesses — noting Superintendent Guerrero is not a school board member.
Barish concluded, “PAT plans to continue its peaceful, lawful picketing at unit member worksites, its rallies, and other direct actions.”