EAGLE POINT — Teachers and other school employees went on strike Tuesday in Eagle Point, leading the Southern Oregon district to cancel classes for the rest of the week while negotiations continued.
It’s the second school strike of the spring in Oregon, which hadn’t seen a teacher walkout since 2006.
The strike began at 6 a.m. in Jackson County School District 9, said Dave Carrell, acting president of the Eagle Point Education Association. Negotiators who had worked all night continued to bargain.
“Something still could happen and we certainly hope it does,” Carrell said.
The district has 328 employees, including 186 teachers. It covers the town of Eagle Point and surrounding areas. It has 11 schools and about 4,100 students.
The union had set the strike date in advance. In preparation for the walkout, the district northeast of Medford previously canceled classes Monday and Tuesday. It had planned to resume classes today with substitute teachers.
After the walkout, though, the district announced that classes would resume next week. Only a few activities, including varsity sports, were expected to continue as scheduled.
The two sides have differences on pay, working hours and subcontracting jobs.
District human resources director Mike Remick said he believes some key issues have been resolved, especially subcontracting.
The two sides have traded unfair labor practice allegations, the Medford Mail Tribune reported.
Teachers have accused the district of harassing employees with questions about whether they intended to strike. The administration alleged the union broke its contract by using the district’s email system to make strike preparations.
The last contract talks in 2009 were settled at the last minute after an all-night bargaining session.
On Monday, administrators asked teachers to collect their personal belongings from classrooms and to turn in district property such as keys and electronics.
“We really have no way of knowing how long we’re going to be gone,” teacher Adrienne Dunkin said after packing several plastic containers of belongings into her car.
In late April, teachers in the Gresham-Barlow district east of Portland went on strike for a few hours before reaching a settlement.
In the Reynolds district, also east of Portland, teachers voted Tuesday to authorize a strike May 21 if no contract agreement is reached by then.