Narrowly avoiding a teachers strike in Oregon’s largest school district, Portland school officials and the Portland Association of Teachers on Feb. 18 signed a tentative contract agreement that will see the district hire 150 new teachers in an effort to reduce class sizes and teacher workloads.
The agreement also adds an unspecified number of days to the school year and gives teachers three 2.3 percent annual salary increases.
The 150 new hires increase the size of the 2,900-strong teacher workforce by 5 percent. The union had initially wanted the district to hire 175 new teachers while the district had said it would hire only 88.
The agreement on a final number was one of several compromises it took to avert a walkout. Salary increases, the length of the school year and retirement incentives were other hot-button issues. But both sides said they came to a fair agreement.
“Our goal this whole time was about making things better on behalf of our kids and our working conditions,” said union president Gwen Sullivan. “This was one step forward to do that.”
The Oregonian, Feb. 19
Labor Notes, Feb. 7
Reuters, Feb. 6