We’ve all been watching as the teacher contract negotiations have ratcheted up the tension and anxiety in Gresham-Barlow, Parkrose and Reynolds School Districts this spring. Thankfully, despite some unnecessarily belligerent rhetoric from the local chapters of the Oregon Education Association, Parkrose and Gresham-Barlow successfully completed negotiations and signed new contracts.
Reynolds School District, on the other hand, is a completely different story. The thug tactics the union is employing to pressure school board members have gotten completely out of hand.
The Reynolds Education Association and the School District have been locked in negotiations over a new contract for over a year now. On May 12, REA voted to strike. This was despite the fact that, unlike Parkrose or Gresham-Barlow, the Reynolds School Board had NOT implemented any final offer, nor declared impasse. Instead the REA/OEA unilaterally declared impasse on the district, rushed to a strike vote and notified the district of a strike at 6:00 am on May 21.
Since the strike began on Monday, the behavior of the teachers on strike and the union bosses has been nothing short of despicable. They have deliberately engaged in intimidation tactics – not just toward the school board members themselves, but toward their entire families.
Reena Teeny, wife of school board member Joe Teeny, went public last week to expose the picketers that were in front of their house that left their children petrified and weeping:
Joe Teeny put an even finer point on it in an interview on Tuesday, May 22, when he stated that the REA subsequently published the name and address of the private school that their children attend. When he confronted the various members responsible for such a direct intimidation tactic, he was ignored and given no explanation.
Intimidation and encouraging stalking. Believe it or not, that’s not the worst of it.
After a cooling off day on Tuesday the 22nd, the school board members were expecting to be called back to the bargaining table on Wednesday. What happened next was straight out of Saul Alinsky. The REA waited until the very last possible moment to advise the board the time and location of the bargaining session. They were summoned to a local church for the session, and when they arrived, they were greeted by hundreds of union members, teachers, and a tractor trailer brought in by the Teamsters. There were loudspeakers blaring music, and the board members were intimidated to the point that they had to be escorted in and out by armed security.
It has already been shown that the REA is working in cahoots with the OEA, Occupy Portland and the International Socialists Organization. In fact, they were the musical entertainment for the May Day Protest hosted by Occupy Portland:
Rumors are now flying that the REA is coordinating their efforts with public sector unions all across the country, including the upstanding citizens who defiled the Wisconsin State House. You’ll recall their scare tactics and thuggery:
Indeed, REA has posted on its very own Facebook Page that they are coordinating tactics with teacher unions all across the country:
the union united will never be divided!
chicago!According to the Huffington Post, Chicago Public Schools teachers rallied together Wednesday in downtown Chicago intended to send a message of solidarity to …
- 12 people like this.
The REA picketers have gone so far as to intimidate and provoke their own coworkers:
So, what is the union so upset about? How are they being treated unfairly?
By all accounts, the REA is deliberately attempting to bankrupt the Reynolds School District. The School Board’s initial offer of just over $3 million in pay increases over 3 years, which would have resulted in teacher raises of around $3000 per year, was flatly rejected. The initial offer also included language that would have changed the bargaining process in future contract negotiations. The REA has been digging in its heels that it will not accept these changes, and their counter offer has not come down from $15 MILLION in increases over 3 years. Such an increase would result in pay and benefit increases for teachers of over $15,000 per year. To put that in perspective, the AVERAGE teacher’s salary in the district is $65,000. (Incidentally, that’s about 40% or so higher than the median income in the community.) With pay and benefits combined, total teacher compensaition is somewhere around $72,000. The REA is demanding – DEMANDING – that the AVERAGE total compensation increase to upwards of $100,000.
The Board has since backed off its changes to the contract language, and has submitted a series of counter offers that ended up with a total compensation increase of just over $5 Million over three years. The Board has pointed out that, at the end of the three year contract, their reserves will total a mere $200,000.
This offer has been flatly rejected by the REA. When the Board realized what the REA was demanding, they realized that they had no more room to negotiate and they ended the session. Of course, REA leadership let their hundreds of
thugs picketers know that the School Board had “left the negotiating table”, whipping up anger and anxiety. The School Board members had to be escorted out of the church to their cars by armed security. The word is that the neutral arbitrator appointed to oversee the negotiations is appalled that the REA has rejected the School Board’s final offer. There is no indication that the REA is willing to back off its demands, leaving observers to openly question whether they are deliberately attempting to bankrupt the district.
The REA is most certainly not backing off its tactics of intimidation and fear. This was just posted this morning in the Facebook Group, Parents Who Support RSD Teachers:
I am a parent of a 7th grader , I am a tax payer AND I am a classified worker in this district. Today I rode my bike to work. I need to say the Teachers are losing my support a little more each day. I HAD to cross the picket line to report to my job. I was stopped and asked IF I was going to cross this line . I said I have to. I was called a “SCAB” many times, and they started chanting” SHAME ON YOU”.They were acting like bullies…I was in TEARS. I am a person who NEVER swears…..they got me swearing. These are people setting examples and teaching my child. I am OUTRAGED!!! How dare you treat me like this. Just yesterday I brought some of you coffee and home made bread. Be the example you want to see in this world!! Shame on me??? Shame on YOU. ( I do know it is not ALL……those of you who do not condone this need to stand up and say ENOUGH of the bully tactics. The children are watching!!! STILL PRAYING FOR ALL!!
It is despicable that the REA has decided not to negotiate in good faith with the School Board, opting instead to employ intimidation and unreasonable negotiation tactics for an as yet unclear objective. One thing is certain – the community and the students are suffering terribly despite the best efforts of the School Board to avoid such a standoff. And the local media has failed the community by not exposing these tactics to the tax payers.
Check out coverage of the teacher strikes in East County: