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Medford, Oregon doesn't make a lot of national news. It's a rare (and usually not happy) story that comes from the largest community in Southern Oregon into national awareness. Our little labor action made that leap yesterday, as the AP pickup from one of our local TV stations made it to the Washington Post. The angle that is catching national attention is that while we are the 8th largest district in modestly sized state, Portland is 10 days away from walking, as well. They are the single largest block of students and teachers in the state.

It's not a good scene. Tomorrow, after three days of closure to prepare for reopening with replacement workers, Medford students will be expected back in the classroom. Schools have consolidated into combined campuses (my site, North Medford High School will have half days in the morning, Hedrick Middle School will use our campus each afternoon). With this consolidation, the district is hoping to cover nearly 600 striking teachers with more like 225 subs, plus administrators teaching, plus a handful of line-crossers from the regular staff. As of yesterday's training session 112 people got off the sub busses.

As this looms, the District isn't at the negotiation table again until Wednesday. The School Board has canceled 4 of the past 5 scheduled meetings to avoid public interaction. For how we got here? Follow my below the Civil Disobedience Squiggly!

A timeline of the Medford situation side by side with the Portland situation was laid out earlier this month by Oregon Strike Insider (seriously worthwhile blog for those interested). The Association has a site:

The MEA communications team (yes, I am on it) put together a flyer this week to put in the hands of interested parents and community members. Part of that was this (now with new bolding for emphasis (mine)):

Teachers had two choices.  A.  Accept the lousy District implemented offer.  Or B.  Strike.

Medford teachers chose B.  Why?  Because each day they have to look into the faces of students and know that they did all they could to ensure them a quality education.

What were the footsteps that took us out of our classrooms and onto the city sidewalks?  It all began around the table last March in Interest Based Bargaining.  The process worked for 72 days with agreement on nearly every issue…until the District realized that they had money to offer Medford teachers a fair settlement.  They called a caucus and when they came back to the table, they announced they were going to traditional bargaining.

Then came the initial proposal.  On July 2nd, the District passed a gutted contract proposal across the table.  They hit 118 different parts of a highly functioning agreement. (Hey folks remember the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?”) The contract wasn’t broken…until the District’s proposal broke it.  We went from collaborative negotiations to contentious in one day.

Next came the end of the 150 day timeline.   Right on cue, the District called for mediation.  (Perfectly following the state minimum timelines).  The District met the minimum requirement for mediation and then filed for impasse.  As soon as the cooling off period ended, the District declared war by implementing a final offer.  While the District has the right to take these steps, none are conducive to building trust and good relations with staff or fostering quality working conditions.

Regardless of the frustration with the District’s behavior, the MEA tried several last ditch efforts to settle the contract.   One of these was a one year settlement offer intended to keep schools open while negotiations continued.

The District rejected the one year settlement offer so quickly that the MEA team knew the Board’s sole intention was to force a strike.  Additionally in a District letter mailed to classified staff on February 4th before negotiations resumed, the District stated the teachers would be striking on Thursday. Stating something as a given before the teams even sat down at the mediation table says it all.  The District had already decided it wanted and would force a strike, unless MEA capitulated to the District’s every demand.

It’s now up to our community to bring a settlement.  We need parents and concerned community members to contact the Board and tell them to MOVE NEGOTIATIONS FORWARD. Quit wasting taxpayer money, stop eroding the quality of our schools, and settle a fair contract.

So NOW we have busses of replacements coming to the individual school sites this morning (orientation and training). The Superintendent was on TV last night saying "We have all the substitutes we need to run all of our classes." But a copy of the class schedule for one of the local elementary schools shows a k-6 schedule covered by 8 subs. Including a 4/5 split level group, that is one teacher per grade in a school that usually has 22 certified personnel. My site is usually staffed with nearly 80 and has a schedule in place that is supposed to work with 30. For now, the front page of NMHS has a schedule that includes 4 40 minute classes. Building Administrators (thanklessly stuck in the middle, along with the classified staff) worked a 14 hour day on Sunday building schedules and assigning students to 'classes' -- the saving grace for the plan may be that the students at the high school level will likely stay home, as well.

The district search for Subs led them to Eugene and Portland. The snow storm in northern Oregon brought about the following email offering airfare, rather than milage reimbursement:

We know that weather has become inclement in your area and it may be unsafe for you to travel to our district.  For that reason, we are offering a $350 stipend, in lieu of the mileage reimbursement, for roundtrip airfare from your area to Medford.  Our hope is that you will book travel to be able to attend the Orientation scheduled for 10:00 AM Sunday morning.  When you arrive to the airport, please keep track of your taxi receipts as we will also reimburse you for that cost.

If no flights are available early Sunday, please book a flight for Saturday.  We will take care of your hotel and cab fare if a shuttle is not available.  We recommend booking a roundtrip, refundable ticket with return flight late Friday or Saturday.  If the contract settles prior to your scheduled departure flight, Medford School district will pay your flight change fee.

Thank you so much for making yourself available to work in our district and for allowing us to create a safe travel situation for your arrival and departure.

Reports are coming in this morning of subs being flown in from Texas and New York, with return airfare for the upcoming 3 day weekend and then back to Oregon, should the strike continue beyond the weekend.

What can you do? Get the story out. Have friends in Oregon? Get them Aware (it's Portland in a week, and Eugene in the months to come). If you are or know an educator who might be recruited? Encourage them to NOT accept a sub job in Oregon. Feel free to jump into the comment sections of the district facebook page (DON'T "like" them). Keep public comments CLEAN, on point, fact-based, and avoid (hard as it may be, set your 'snark' setting to OFF :))

Make our school board uncomfortable. Arm yourself with a couple good facts and then make some phone calls. Follow the NMHS link to get out to the District page. From there, call the Superintendent of Schools. The School Board members have additional public phone numbers (thanks to their election filing paper-work). I'll may post that info in comments.

Originally posted to JD SoOR on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 06:39 AM PST.

Also republished by Koscadia and Daily Kos Oregon.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Citations for honkers (10+ / 0-)

    The county sheriff has a enthusiastic deputy issuing citations to  people honking as they pass the picket lines at one elementary school - $160 fine.

    Click for Donations to Black Tornado Theater (link is small near top)

    by JD SoOR on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 12:43:05 PM PST

  •  It is my understanding that the issues center (7+ / 0-)

    on working conditions...rather than compensation?  Can you give us something specific as to the issues?

    The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." - John Kenneth Galbraith

    by leema on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 12:47:06 PM PST

  •  JD SoOR, What are the key issues that the strike (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    focuses on from your perspective?  I was not able to see that in the diary or in the diary links?

    What are teachers saying to each other about which issues motivate them to strike?

    Mention is made in the links about the number of proposed changes in the contract, what is the nature of the offered changes?  Number of changes does not give much insight.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 01:16:26 PM PST

  •  This Portland public parent (8+ / 0-)

    sends you love and solidarity.  Nearly the exact scenario in Portland.  It became apparent early on that, barring complete capitulation, PPS had long ago written the script they wanted.

    One (very dark) silver lining is that you have our subs. >:-)

    If Portland follows in your footsteps, our high-schooler will be staying home.  The hub and I will be providing food and warm beverages for our school's strikers.

    We're with you!

    Can you call yourself a real liberal if you aren't reading driftglass?

    by CJB on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 02:33:49 PM PST

  •  I can't help you from here, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JD SoOR, Glen The Plumber

    It being nearly 300 miles, but you have my support. And like CJB, when PPS goes out, I'll help out the strikers as much as I can.

    (My best to little Stormageddon ;-) )

    "It is our choices Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." -Albus Dumbledore ~~~~~~~~~

    by Lainie on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 03:35:01 PM PST

  •  Our Issues (6+ / 0-)

    Keep in mind as I start this litany that it is NOT about compensation, though as the process started, a compensation piece was part of it.

    When the District came back to the table at the start of traditional bargaining, they proposed a contract that not only roll back nearly every agreement that had been tentatively agreed to during the collaborative bargaining process, but also altered aspects that had never been in the discussion during the weeks of earlier efforts.

    The most contentious financial pieces that had been at issue dealt with how money attached to changing the length of contract (the District  language referred to that as a raise, whereas it was a scaled increase in compensation for a proportional increase in days worked) and around how the District planned to structure contributions to the state retirement system (the district was including more wages to cover an increase mandatory employee contribution and terming that a raise, as well). But we're past BOTH of those issues.. the most recent proposals from the Association have accepted the District numbers on those points and the District has now been the ones turning it down.

    The only financial piece still in contention is the manner in which a retirement medical benefit would either abruptly end before this school year ends or would phase out by the end of next school year.

    The concept of prep time effects secondary and elementary teachers differently. The elementary teachers have historically had time to do prep work during the time when their students are with specialists (PE, Music, Library, Art). That meant elementary usually got 4 blocks of time per week. Now most of those programs don't exist to the degree they used to and the elementary prep allocation dropped to one or two blocks per week. Schedules were changed to create an shortened school day (Wednesdays) where a block could exist. Building principals have often scheduled meetings or assigned duties during these times, effectively rendering them meaningless. The Association desires language with establishes that protects that time. Secondary teachers have similar prep needs (I detailed in a response above that we are currently assured 22.66 seconds per student per day). District proposed language would drop the total number of secondary minutes and possibly increase over all student loads, hugely impacting the already minuscule time available to secondary teachers.

    Collaborative decision making, about topics as diverse as special education case loads, classroom aide prioritization, evaluation and extra duty processes, were all altered in a way that either took them out of the contract entirely or reduced or removed educator input.

    We are also in disagreement on how long the contract should run. The District is immobile on 3 years. The Association has made offers both of 1 and 2 year durations, with the idea that some of the more onerous financial aspects of the District proposal kick in year 3. By then, we will have a different Superintendent, a recomposed school board, and a very different complexion for the educators (many will retire, particularly depending on the final decision on the medical benefit).

    Click for Donations to Black Tornado Theater (link is small near top)

    by JD SoOR on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 03:50:50 PM PST

  •  I just called the sheriff's office and filed a (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ninkasi23, Mostel26, Glen The Plumber, CJB

    complaint.  Some is "going to call" me......
    You have expressed well what is happening and I'm going to put this on my FB page.  

  •  A deputy at the Sheriff's office just called me to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ninkasi23, Glen The Plumber

    say it's a state law to "unlawfully use one's horn" anywhere in the state.  That means, he says that anytime people are honking at picketers, it's against the law because it's not an emergency.

  •  It's all about breaking the union (5+ / 0-)

    I'm not a teacher but a bunch of my friends are teachers (or recently retired) in town near Medford. My retired teacher friends have refused to substitute in Medford and we are all watching this unfold with horror. The district's offer is absolute shit. I just don't understand this country's hatred of teachers! Most of us had good teachers growing up, a couple of duds and hopefully a few truly great and inspirational teachers that sent us off in a new direction. There isn't a teacher in the USA that went into it for the money. Anyone who has paid attention can see how many extra hours teachers work and how prep time has been stripped along with everything else. I'll show up with some snacks for the picket line. Is there a line at every school or are they concentrating on the high schools?

    Thanks for a great diary. Very informative!

    Try Organic food, or as your grandparents called it, food.

    by madame damnable on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 06:06:38 PM PST

  •  Misleading Sub Info (0+ / 0-)

    I'd like to address the topic discussed in the second half of the article. There aren't enough substitutes to replace every teacher. The author seems to be using that as a point to hammer the district. It's MEA's fault that there is a sub shortage in the first place. There are plenty of subs(mostly local) to fill the need. As you know MEA called them all and told them not to work. No one wants to tick off the union, so most caved. So yes, it's MEA's doing & now they are complaining about it?
    This is the type of dishonest accountability with a large doses of deceptive claims that have made BOTH the district & the union unable to agree on much. I've lost quite a bit of respect for both leadership groups & don't see an end in the immediate future. I hope I'm wrong & our kids are back to learning like they should be as soon as possible.

    •  Yes there are plenty of teachers... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, Glen The Plumber, CJB

      ... they are the contracted current staff. The district has not bargained in ANY manner that would do anything other than force a strike. They allowed bargaining to go for the bare minimum number of days required by law before calling for mediation, they let mediation go for the bare minimum before calling impasse, they let impasse go the bare minimum before implementing, and they would come i, session after session, with "new" proposals that wold sometimes have a 'change' of a single word or phrase.

      The MEA asked the sub list to consider not working. The also called sub lists for most other districts in the state.

      We are calling the district on making the claim that school will go forward and that a quality education will be provided. That is a claim that is preposterous on its face. Rather than flying a teacher across the country, they could have had a negotiation team in place on Friday, on Sunday, Today, and Tomorrow. Instead, they were not in the room on those days. They cite the lack of availability of a mediator, but that is honestly a cop out. If this is a crisis (one they instigated and escalated at every turn), then they need to be doing everything they can to resolve it.

      Negotiation Analogy:
      A? Z. ok, B. No, Z. Ummm, C? We like Z. We'd be willing to consider D... Z is good. After discussion, we'll go E.  Z or nothing. ... ... Would you consider the merits of F? These people are unreasonable and since we can't get them to agree to Z, we need a mediator. ... ... (time passes)... Well, we'll will happily consider starting this conversation at G. We'd be willing to discuss Z... (mediator points out that negotiation requires movement) ... So, we were offering G, since, you know, we started at A. You make a good point -- Y is our absolutely best offer. Wow...Y? Y. We could maybe do H? You are so unreasonable not to take Y, we are at an Impasse. ... ... (time passes) ... ... OK, so here's how it's gonna be: Y. Really? That's it? Yes. Well, we won't do that... but we'll do M. Y. N? Y. O? Y. ... ... (public outcry after District says teachers won't budge... "why won't they meet in the middle?") ... P? Y. Q? Y. Fine. We're on Strike.

      Teachers are the unreasonable ones in this. They started on A.


      Click for Donations to Black Tornado Theater (link is small near top)

      by JD SoOR on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 10:04:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  So you support scab labor? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Glen The Plumber, ladybug53

      That is comforting. A strike means there is a line in place that should not be crossed. By supporting the use of scab labor to run that school you are directly enabling the school board to gain leverage in a contract dispute that will harm all of the district's students in the long run. The diarist makes clear the district is attempting to impose a contract that has condition that directly harm the ability of teachers to deliver instruction to students. You should not be in support of that.

    •  UID Comparison :) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Glen The Plumber

      yup. Welcome to DailyKos!  Enjoy the wit, wisdom, and fact-based progressive politics!

      Click for Donations to Black Tornado Theater (link is small near top)

      by JD SoOR on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 06:34:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Today is 1st day Students will be back... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Glen The Plumber

    ...we'll stand at the curb and sing the fight song as they arrive.

    Click for Donations to Black Tornado Theater (link is small near top)

    by JD SoOR on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 06:51:31 AM PST

  •  OU (2) and Oregon State (4) endorse 6 limbaugh (0+ / 0-)

    stations renting their logos to those anti ed ALEC megaphones for what may be a few thousands of dollars.

    those stations have been attacking teachers and public education as long as they've been doing rw radio.

    maybe you folks might want to picket an appropriately located station to get more media attention.

    push those unis to declare they're looking for alt radio stations and those ALEC megaphones will panic.

    see link in sig....

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 07:38:38 AM PST

  •  SCABS (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26, denig

    They are not replacement workers. They are not subs. They are SCABS. And scabs are a low form of life, well described by Jack London. You can Google it.

    •  History and Messaging (0+ / 0-)

      The rich history of labor conflicts (and of all conflicts, really) has do much for our language. The great contribution of old Norse skabr is legit... However, in a district with the anti-bullying policies ours has, we decided we'd stay away from that word and instead let the public perception of "replacement Refs" and "replacement Players" thanks to some high profile strikes in pro sports. Everyone gets that a replacement isn't.

      Click for Donations to Black Tornado Theater (link is small near top)

      by JD SoOR on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 01:53:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Welcome to the US of ALEC (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    denig, peregrine kate

    An uneducated population = cheap labor.
    Best wishes for success from Florida. It seems like we all have major problems to face on a daily basis these days. So sad.

    •  Welcome to Daily Kos! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JD SoOR

      Much more hospitable than the US of ALEC.
      By the way--though JD SoOR appears to be checking on his diary, for the most part diaries that are up for more than a day are "stale" and not much traffic happens there. That's partly because one can't rec a comment after about a day, nor reply to it after a little longer than that. Just an FYI.

      Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

      Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 06:54:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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