Sandy teachers'strike ends after 16 days on picket line

Teachers in Sandy, Welches and Boring, Oregon, went back to work Nov. 17 when a new union contract ended a 16-day strike. It was the second-longest teacher strike in Oregon. The longest was in Eugene in 1987.

Leaders of the Oregon Education Association — the teachers’ union — said the agreement contained some gains and some losses, but preserved the self-respect of teachers, who had essentially been forced out on strike by the Oregon Trail School District. The district had halted contract bargaining a year and a half after the previous contract expired and implemented its own proposal without the teachers’ consent.

“We have reversed the District’s imposition of its final offer,” said Mike Cosper, president of the OEA local in a press statement. “We staved off most of the district’s demands for rollbacks in our contract.”

Teachers approved the agreement Nov. 16 by an overwhelming margin, and the school board ratified it later that day.

The agreement contains a lump-sum payment in lieu of a retroactive raise, plus raises of 2.375 percent this year and next and 2.625 percent the year after. That was an improvement over the district’s offer prior to the strike, when it said it would give no more than 2 and 2.25 percent, respectively.

Several of the most contentious issues remain to be worked out, including provisions covering teacher evaluation and transfers. The district wanted changes to previous contract language. Those issues will be submitted to a labor-management committee, and if the committee is unable to come to agreement, then a three-member arbitration panel will make a binding decision. 

“Some teachers are going to remember this as the time that the school board attacked them,” said OEA staffperson Steve Kenney. “Others will try to forget and move on.”

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