Three Oregon House Republicans said today they will introduce legislation in the 2024 session that would make it illegal for public schoolteachers to strike.
“Oregon students are all too familiar with school closures and learning losses. In Portland, union bosses are using nearly 44,000 students as bargaining chips in their negotiations, causing irreparable harm to Portland families,” said Rep. Vikki Breese-Iverson (R-Prineville). “Portland Public Schools are the gold standard for how not to run a school district despite record investments from the state. It is time they be held accountable.”
As the Portland strike, now in its ninth instructional day, stretches on, many Portland parents might be tempted to agree with the concept Breese-Iverson and Reps. Jami Cate (R-Lebanon) and Christine Goodwin (R-Canyonville) are proposing to introduce in the session that begins Feb. 5.
The three lawmakers note that public sector employees in 37 states are prohibited from going on strike. (Oregon law prohibits only public safety officials, such as police, fire, corrections, prosecutorial and 911 employees, from striking.)
But while a no-strike law may score some political points for the three lawmakers, it would have little chance of passing in the labor-friendly Oregon Legislature. And it also highlights an irony: GOP lawmakers have themselves walked off the job five times since 2019, most recently for 42 days earlier this year. In fairness, only one of those walkouts occurred in the House.
Breese-Iverson says there’s no irony at all. She notes that Oregon public employees funded the campaign to pass Measure 113, the poorly crafted 2022 ballot measure aimed at keeping lawmakers from abandoning their posts.
“Weren’t unions the ones trying to block walkouts with funding for M113?” Breese-Iverson asks.