PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Teachers in Portland, Oregon, temporarily closed a major bridge Tuesday morning as they marched on a strike that began about three weeks ago.
Members of the Portland Association of Teachers union and their supporters stood in the middle of Burnside Bridge for about 15 minutes. KGW reported. According to the news agency, the bridge was clear and cars were driving over it at 9 a.m.
Photos posted by the union on its Facebook page showed teachers wearing blue clothing sitting on the bridge and holding banners demanding better pay and better teaching conditions. The union had called on its supporters to meet at its headquarters, about half a mile from the bridge, at 7:30 a.m. before starting the march at 8 a.m
Portland teachers have been on strike since Nov. 1, closing schools for about 45,000 students in Oregon’s largest district. Due to the strike, students missed eleven days of classes.
In marathon negotiations that at times lasted all night, the teachers union and district negotiated salaries, class sizes and scheduling time for teachers.
The union originally proposed caps on class sizes, but amid district opposition over costs, it is now instead calling for higher pay for teachers whose class sizes exceed certain thresholds.
In recent days, questions about parent involvement in proposed committees to monitor class sizes have become a major point of contention.
The union has proposed allowing parents to serve on committees that decide whether students can be admitted to a class that has already reached the size threshold. The district said this would violate student privacy and that such decisions should be made by teachers, principals and school administrators.
On Monday morning, the union said school board members had rejected a tentative agreement. In a news conference, board members disputed the claim but said they believed an agreement was “very, very close.”
Both sides appear to have made some progress in salary negotiations. In its most recent proposal on Monday, the district proposed cost-of-living adjustments that would increase teacher salaries by about 13% over three years, closer to the union’s original salary increase of about 20% over three years would move closer.
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