on Friday, the 40-member Professional Staff Organization of the Oregon Education Association is at an impasse with the OEA board.
Normally, a strike by a 40-member labor group wouldn't be big news. But the OEA staff does much of the organizational work for the powerful 47,000-member statewide teachers' union, especially during the election season when the OEA is mobilizing on statewide measures and trying to organize for candidates it's supporting.
Here's the text of a release OEA staff sent out announcing the strike:
OREGON EDUCATION ASSOCIATION PROFESSIONAL STAFF ON STRIKE
Portland, September 14, 2008 – The Professional Staff Organization (PSO) of the Oregon education Association (OEA) is on strike as of 12:01 A.M., Monday, September 15. Pickets will begin Monday morning at all OEA offices throughout Oregon. All union members are expected to honor those pickets.
Talks broke down Saturday afternoon after three days of mediation failed to produce an agreement. PSO President Catherine Alexander said, “The OEA bargaining team has stubbornly refused to compromise on the same contract rollbacks they have had on the table since April.”
“The OEA team is violating their own union principles insisting on rollbacks on healthcare, retirement, workload, and compensatory time. We would not accept these rollbacks for the teachers and support staff we represent, and we will not accept these rollbacks for our own PSO members. It is part of our job responsibilities to defend union principles for both ourselves and the teachers and support staff we represent.”
The PSO also filed an Unfair Labor Practice against the OEA for failing to bargain in good faith.
“A long list of anti-education ballot measures are staring OEA members in the face and this is the time when PSO members call on teachers and support staff to phone and walk to defeat those measures. We want to get this contract settled and get back to representing OEA members,” said PSO President Catherine Alexander.