[Fox Business] Teachers strike in Portland Public Schools drags on in ‘no school November’

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Halfway through the month, it’s been a “no school November” for students in the Portland Public Schools system in Oregon as an ongoing strike by teachers has kept students out of classrooms while the two sides continue to negotiate a new labor agreement.

The Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) union began its strike on Nov. 1 after it failed to reach an agreement with the Portland Public Schools (PPS). Over 4,000 educators and teachers in the district are on strike – which is the first in the district’s history and has kept about 45,000 students in the district out of the classroom since it began.

Oregon’s Democratic Gov. Tina Kotek announced on Nov. 7 that she appointed a mediator to help broker a deal between the PAT union and PPS. Mediation is ongoing, and Portland Public Schools remained closed on Tuesday due to the strike. Kotek also directed state chief financial officer Kate Nass to work with the two sides on the financial side of talks to ensure they’re negotiating using the same set of numbers.

PARENTS, KIDS SIDELINED AS PORTLAND TEACHERS’ UNION, DISTRICT REMAIN GRIDLOCKED AMID STRIKE: ‘SETTING US BACK’

The PAT union is pushing for pay raises as well as increased benefits and caps on class size along with other changes to teachers’ work schedules. PPS noted that a significant gap remains between the two sides as the cost of the union’s Nov. 12 proposal was estimated to cost about $358 million – about $100 million of which would come from hiring an additional 352 educators – whereas the PPS released the same day would cost $147 million.

Unlike 37 states and the District of Columbia, state law in Oregon doesn’t restrict the ability of teachers to go on strike – as the state only restricts the ability of police officers, firefighters, corrections officers and other emergency service providers to strike.

NORTHERN MASSACHUSETTS DISTRICT’S SCHOOLS REMAIN CLOSED AS TEACHER STRIKE ENTERS FOURTH DAY

On the other side of the country, a teacher’s strike in Andover, Massachusetts, was brought to an end days after it began, as the Andover School Committee and Andover Education Association reached a tentative deal on a collective bargaining agreement that includes pay raises.

The tentative agreement would provide teachers with 15.5% raises while instructional assistants would receive 34% pay increases, each being phased in over four years. 

It also provides eight weeks of fully paid parental leave and the option to use an additional four weeks of accrued sick time – bringing the total amount of paid parental leave to 12 weeks – and allows for up to 60 days of paid sick leave to take care of a seriously ill family member and increases planning time for elementary teachers with extended recess for students.

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The deal comes after an Essex Superior Court judge levied a $50,000 fine on the Andover Education Association when the strike wasn’t brought to a conclusion by 6 p.m. on Monday. Fines were set to continue to rise incrementally by $10,000 per day for each day the strike continued because the teachers union violated a court order to end the strike, as the state of Massachusetts prohibits strikes by teachers’ unions.

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