Portland Public Schools has filed an Employment Relations Board, claiming the Portland Association of Teachers’ potential strike illegal. At issue is class size, and whether it’s one of the reasons the teachers have called a strike. By state law, unions and employers can only bargain over a specific list of issues, and employees can strike over only a few of them. Class size is not on that list. The district claims it’s one of the union’s reasons for the strike, and so the strike is illegal. It’s asking the Board to cancel the walkout. Teachers may strike as soon as February 20th.
The Oregonian reports class size has been a public rallying cry for the teachers’ union, appearing in much of the literature distributed to the public. But on the official notice of intent to strike the union filed with the state, class size does not appear. “Employee workload,” which can be interpreted to mean the number of students assigned to a teacher, does. The union says because class size is not on the official notice, their strike is legal.
The Employment Relations Board will hear the complaint the day before the strike is scheduled to begin, but may not make a ruling until February 26th.