Portland teachers prepare picket signs for potential strike

The largest teachers union in Oregon is kicking strike preparations into high gear.
Published: Oct. 26, 2023 at 10:45 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - The largest teachers union in Oregon is kicking strike preparations into high gear.

With a potential strike planned to begin in less than a week, Portland teachers and their supporters spent hours making picket-signs on Thursday.

See Also: Portland Association of Teachers says strike could begin Nov. 1

Teachers and supporters gathered at the Portland Association of Teachers’ (PAT) office on Thursday and wrote messages on the signs that read “students are not sardines” and “on strike for our students.”

Portland teachers are preparing for the looming strike armed with hundreds of materials needed to make picket signs. Some people made customized signs, while others attached wooden handles. Completed signs were bundled together and set aside – for now.

Last week, members of the union authorized a strike that could potentially begin November 1st.

Teachers are demanding safer facilities, as well as fully resourced schools.

“When I have 31 students, I have to turn a heater in my classroom into a desk space,” Tiffany Koyama Lane, a 3rd grade teacher, said. “I love teaching. and also, I want to work in a building that doesn’t have mice and doesn’t have mold.”

“One in five Oregon youths will have a major depressive episode and has had a major depressive episode in the last year. We can’t gamble and hope that happens on a day there happens to be a mental health service provider in that school,” Mike Carlip, a behavior analyst, said.

In a statement, Portland Public Schools (PPS) said, in part:

“We are not unwilling to accept their proposal: we are unable. Even the proposal we have made will require at least $45 million in structural budget cuts over the next three years. In stark contrast, PAT’s proposal would require $277 million in cuts over the next three years. This is without including the over 500 new educators we would need to hire under the union’s proposed hard class caps. $277 million in cuts would devastate programs, services, and staffing levels. Class sizes would inevitably rise, and the quality of students’ educational experience would decrease. The benefits of the union’s proposal do not outweigh the losses. We know it would harm our students in both the short and long term.”

See Also: Parents concerned over possible PPS strike impact

The union said they remain hopeful that a deal could be reached before the strike date.

“I think it’s a possibility and one we’re hoping for. We have to be prepared for otherwise, but we would like to see some progress at the table,” Jacque Dixon, PAT Vice President, said.

Teachers said a strike – is a last resort. “I’m really sad to not be at my school with my kids, but I’ll be at my school with my kids on the sidewalk working for them to get what they deserve,” Brittany Dorris, a 5th grade teacher, said.

The next bargaining sessions are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.