Sandy teachers strike nears close

Striking teachers in Sandy, Boring, and Welches Oregon reached a tentative deal with management of the Oregon Trail School District in the early morning Nov. 16, though details of the agreement were not known as of press time. A vote was scheduled for Nov. 16. The group had been out on strike since Oct. 25, and until Nov. 15, neither public pressure nor the intervention of the governor of Oregon had been enough to get the Oregon Trail School District administration to compromise or the school board to take a position.

The Board hadn’t met since the strike began, and cancelled its Nov. 14 meeting “because of concerns about safety and security.”

The implication was that the six-member Oregon Trail School District Board, which includes two Portland police officers, decided not to meet because it was afraid of violence from the district's 216 striking teachers. These same teachers would then be trusted with the care of over 4,000 schoolchildren when the strike ended.

Governor Ted Kulongoski thought he could end the strike Nov. 10 with a proposal he sent to the mediator that split the difference on salary and insurance and let the differences over contract language covering teacher evaluation and transfers be resolved later by a joint labor-management committee, with binding arbitration if the committee can’t reach agreement. The Oregon Education Association (OEA), which represents the teachers, accepted the governor’s proposal. The school district turned it down.

Teachers picketed the homes of Board members and the district superintendent last week. None of them came out to meet with strikers, said OEA spokesperson Steve Kenney.

Since the strike began, a new issue has emerged to divide the two sides: The district wants teachers to lose a day of pay for each day they strike.

“They want to make us suffer for what we’ve done,” Kenney said.

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