Portland teachers' strike averted

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Updated: February 18, 2014, 10:57 AM

 

— PORTLAND — After pulling an all-nighter, bargainers announced Tuesday they had reached an agreement that could avert the first walkout ever by Portland teachers.

The two sides took a break after more than 23 hours of talks and said they would get back together later in the day to iron out details and put the deal in writing.

Once that happens, plans for a strike set to begin Thursday would be placed on hold until ratification votes by the teachers and the school board, said Becca Uherbelau, a spokeswoman for the teachers union.

Neither side revealed details of what they called a “conceptual agreement” that came after teachers voted overwhelmingly on Feb. 5 to authorize a strike.

The Oregonian reported it was the closest brush with a walkout in the history of Portland Public Schools — the largest district in the state with 48,000 students and 2,900 teachers.

Wearing a blue union sweatshirt, chief negotiator Marty Pavlik emerged from a hotel bargaining room about 7:10 a.m. Tuesday and said, “We’re done. We’re done.”

“I look forward to finalizing the tentative agreement later today,” Superintendent Carole Smith said in a statement.

The agreement follows 10 months of negotiations over salaries, workloads and class sizes, length of the school year, and payments and benefits for early retirees.

Before the agreement and facing a possible strike, the district had made plans to cancel classes through Monday then reopen with substitute teachers