Nov 26, 2023 - News

Portland teachers reach tentative deal with district, ending strike

A Portland Association of Teachers strike action earlier this month. Photo: Emily Harris/Axios

The Portland teachers strike is over.

Driving the news: After months of negotiations — including a series of 24-hour bargaining sessions throughout Thanksgiving weekend — Portland Public Schools administrators reached a tentative agreement with the Portland Association of Teachers on Sunday.

  • The union and the district tentatively agreed on a 13.75% cost-of-living wage increase over three years, as well as more planning time for elementary and middle school teachers.

Why it matters: The more than 43,000 PPS students who have been out of school since Nov. 1 can now return to classes and other activities beginning Monday.

What they're saying: In a statement, PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero said, "We are relieved to have our students returning to school and know that being out of school for the last three weeks — missing classmates, teachers, and learning — has been hard for everyone."

  • "Educators have secured improvements on all our key issues," Angela Bonilla, PAT president, said in a written statement. "These changes will make a huge difference on priorities like mental health supports for students, educator workload relief, and safe and welcoming school environments."

The intrigue: The strike canceled 11 days of school, raising concerns about how learning time would be made up before the end of the school year.

  • Instead of winter vacation starting Dec. 16, it will begin Dec. 23. Presidents Day will be an instruction day, as will two other teacher planning days, according to Guerrero's statement. The school year will also be extended a few days later into June.
  • "I think the restart will look a lot like the beginning of school, with group activities and some processing," Linda White, a teacher at Sellwood Middle School, told The Oregonian. "I am probably not the only one who is a little uneasy about how to jump back in."

Of note: Disagreements over class sizes and paid planning time were the final sticking points between the union and district officials.

  • The union initially stood firm on implementing caps to ensure smaller classes. However, over the weekend, members reversed and instead proposed "class size committees" — where teachers and administrators could form on an as-needed basis to solve issues regarding student load.

What's next: The tentative agreement is not official until the union's 3,500 members ratify the terms and the school board approves the full contract.

  • PAT members will vote on the contract by Tuesday evening, according to a union spokesperson, and a school board meeting is scheduled for 6pm Tuesday.
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