In their first-ever strike, Portland teachers walked off the job on Nov. 1. They are demanding smaller class sizes, the hiring of additional teachers, improvements to school infrastructure for safer classroom conditions, and a salary that keeps up with inflation. They also want more mental health specialists hired to support the growing number of children in need.
Parents and students are joining teachers’ daily rallies that happen at most public schools. After the rallies, teachers take off in picket lines, marching throughout the city. Placards and chants have attracted mass community support. Thousands of people have sent letters to Portland Public Schools in support of the teachers.
Support is also coming from construction workers working at Benson High School who refuse to cross the teachers’ picket line and have planned a demonstration of support on Nov. 15. Their message is that workers support the teachers, who teach the future essential workers who will run this city.
“It feels like more than just a moment,” according to Jacque Dixon, vice president of the Portland Association of Teachers. “It’s definitely a historic moment for our union, but it feels like part of a larger movement.” (The Guardian, Nov. 6)
Many union members have supported the teachers, along with large labor unions including Service Employees Union (SEIU) Local 503, Portland Federation of School Professionals, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 5. Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers union, sent a solidarity statement to the teachers.
On Nov. 6, members of the burgeoning Oregon chapter of Rideshare Drivers United rallied and marched with the teachers.