Portland Public Schools and Teachers Unions Pursue Mediation
Wednesday, January, 15, 2014
In another example of the potential of mediation in contract disputes between school boards and teachers, the Portland Public Schools and the Portland Association of Teachers have agreed to continue to pursue mediation guided by a State-appointed official after a 21-hour initial session ended in optimism, though not a formal deal.
At this point in the contract negotiations, the school district is within its powers under the current contract to order the teachers back to work. Similar, the teacher’s union could also call a strike. Mediation was seen as a last chance to avoid either of these untenable scenarios and keep the negotiations on a civil and positive track, and that has proven to be the case so far, with both sides eager to get back to the negotiating table.
The school district has described the mediation process as one in which both sides were working hard to achieve an agreement, and the teacher’s union representatives described the situation as “really close” to an agreement. This hardly seemed possible a week ago when initial negotiations broke down, but the mediation process appears to be working as intended.
However, the union was also careful to note that “really close” was not the same thing as a contract, and the second mediation session will occur at the Portland Association of Teachers' northeast Portland office.