PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A teacher strike is looming after Portland Public Schools and the Portland Association of Teachers left their sixth and final mediation session Tuesday night without reaching an agreement.
PPS says that despite promising a late-morning proposal, the teacher’s union presented their proposal at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday before allegedly leaving without hearing the district’s counter-proposal, which was finalized at 7 p.m.
“We were here until late in the night and we were prepared to go all night to reach a settlement. Unfortunately, we’re unable to do that based on PAT leaving early,” said Dr. Renard Adams, the chief of research, assessment and accountability with PPS. “We want our educators to be paid more. We know we cannot possibly match the value that they bring to our students every day. And at the same time, our last proposal, not even the proposal we made yesterday, would have made our educators among the highest paid in the state.”
However, the teacher’s union tells KOIN 6 News that they didn’t even receive the district’s counter-proposal until after the district shared it with the media on Wednesday.
“If PPS management was serious about making progress in bargaining, they would have shared their updated proposal with us, instead of with the press. It was clear to the PAT bargaining team yesterday that the district wasn’t serious about coming to an agreement that gives our students what they need,” the union said.
While the district’s latest proposal does not address the issue of class sizes, it raises their compensation package to a 4.5% cost of living increase in the first year and would also increase planning time for elementary school teachers by up to 400 minutes.
“We are ready to make movement. PAT is still at their initial offers that they’ve had on the table since January and has made no movement on either planning time or compensation,” Adams said.
PPS says recent data from the Oregon Department of Education highlights funding gaps and shows they not only have some of the smallest class sizes of the large districts in the state, but also spend some of the highest amounts per student.
However, PAT says they have yet to meet them at the table with a contract that addresses the funding and resources needed by students and schools.
“If PPS management was serious about making progress in bargaining, they would have shared their updated proposal with us, instead of with the press. It was clear to the PAT bargaining team yesterday that the district wasn’t serious about coming to an agreement that gives our students what they need. We have asked for more bargaining dates and are waiting to hear back,” PAT said in a statement. “When the district is ready to talk seriously about smaller class sizes, wage increases that keep up with cost of living so teachers can stay and work in the district, increased mental health and special education staff to support our students, we will bargain into the night. If PPS management want to avoid a strike, they need to come to the table with more funds and resources for our students and our schools.”
Both sides tell KOIN 6 they are working to schedule additional bargaining dates. The district is revealing its strike contingency plans to families during their 5:30 virtual meeting on Wednesday night.