Portland school administrators and union leaders, already at odds over a new contract, battled over a new issue now on Tuesday: what the district can say to substitute teachers who are reluctant to cross potential picket lines.
The Portland Association of Teachers is scheduled to vote Wednesday night on whether to approve a ten-day strike notice. Portland Public officials plan to continue school if there’s a strike.
John Bishop, attorney for the Portland Association of Teachers, said the district has illegally threatened substitutes by saying they could lose health insurance and be dropped from the sub list, if they don’t work during a strike.
“It seems like a very obvious attempt to retaliate and threaten substitute teachers who already have fairly tenuous employment and are struggling to get their health insurance benefits through that employment,” Bishop said.
But Portland Public School officials point to a “no-strike clause” of the district’s substitute labor agreement. They said threat accusations are “absolutely not true.”
The union points to a different clause of the same agreement. It says substitutes can decline to work if regular teachers are on strike.