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Teachers: PPS bullies substitutes ahead of strike vote

One day before their strike vote, the Portland Association of Teachers fired one last salvo at Portland Public Schools.

The union on Tuesday filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the Oregon Employment Relations Board, alleging that the district has has violated the law by threatening and bullying Portland substitute teachers who exercise their legal right to decline to work during a strike.

“This is just one more example of the district bullying teachers,” said Gwen Sullivan, PAT president. "Portland substitutes have the legal right to ask to be removed from further assignment when regular teachers are on strike. But now the district is threatening to permanently remove them from the substitute list and to deny their families health insurance if they try to exercise this right. Not only is that morally wrong, it’s against the law.”

Portland substitute teachers are members of the PAT and have a separate labor contract with the district.

Accodring to the union, Article 7 of the substitute’s contract expressly allows them to ask to be removed from further assignment when the district’s regular teachers are involved in a lawful work stoppage.

“Portland substitutes are standing strong with Portland teachers. In fact, out of the 780 substitutes we’ve talked to, the response has been nearly unanimous that they will honor a picket line if the teachers are forced to go on strike,” said Ray Amling, chairman of the Portland substitute teachers committee. “It’s shameful that the district is spreading misinformation and bullying substitutes.”

As a remedy, the PAT has asked the Employment Relations Board to order the district to cease and desist from its behavior and to inform teachers of the violation. It is also asking the board require the district to “make whole” any substitute teachers who may be harmed by its actions.