Portland Teachers Strike Deal After Weeks Long Strike

Students in Portland Public Schools returned to class Monday after the district reached a tentative agreement with its teachers’ union on Sunday.

The agreement comes after the largest school district in Oregon spent more than three weeks without classes — including online — pausing the education of more than 45,000 students across 81 schools.

Since students missed 11 institutional school days, the new year will see winter break will be removed and extra days added.

“We are relieved to have our students returning to school and know that being out of school for the last three weeks — missing classmates, teachers, and learning — has been hard for everyone,” Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero said in a statement. “We thank our students, families, and community for your patience and perseverance through these protracted negotiations. We also want to express our deep appreciation for our educators, who are the backbone of our district and who enrich the lives of our students.”

The teachers, who have been on strike since November 1, walked out over concerns about class sizes, salary, planning time, and the use of school resources to provide housing for students experiencing homelessness.

The starting base pay in the district is around $50,000 a year, which teachers say isn’t enough to keep up with inflation.

Over the next three years, the contract will cost around $175 million.

Portland Teachers Association President Angela Bonilla reported that the deal shows improvements in all areas of concern and that picketing alongside teachers, parents, students, and allies paid off.

Portland’s teachers agreed to around a 14% overall pay raise over the next three years, $20 million for classroom renovations, and a first-ever contract article dedicated to special education.

The strike was part of a growing number of picketing nationwide in recent months. Thousands of workers have gone on strike in various fields, including nurses, Hollywood writers, and autoworkers.

According to the Portland Association of Teachers, which advocates for over 4,000 educators, this was the district’s first strike.