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Published on April 18, 2024
Portland Parents File $100 Million Lawsuit Against Teachers' Union Over Strike-Related DamagesSource: Google Street View

A cadre of Portland parents are taking legal action against the city's teachers' union, slapping them with a hefty $100 million lawsuit for damages they claim were inflicted during a nearly month-long strike last year. The Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) and the Oregon Education Association (OEA) are standing accused of causing not only educational and emotional harm to students, but also triggering economic losses for families across the district.

"The Nov. 1 to Nov. 26, 2023, strike resulted in nearly a month of closed classrooms and missed extracurricular activities," the attorneys representing the aggrieved parents outlined in a statement. Classrooms were rendered void of learning and growth, extracurricular pursuits like sports and music fell to the wayside, and children found themselves ousted from their networks of friends and the comforts of routine — a scenario that parents say was walked up to by the union's decision to strike. As reported by KVAL, the legal claim seeks to financially compensate families thrown into disarray, shouldering out-of-pocket childcare costs or lost wages from having to skip shifts to tend to their young.

While the lawsuit unfolds, the breach of what's deemed a contractual responsibility echoes in the empty hallways where students once hustled between bells. The strike, termed "historic," is serving as a somber milestone for a year of tumultuous school operations. According to a filing quoted by KATU, the fallout was severe: "Shutting down schools causes learning loss, cuts students off from activities such as sports and music, distances them from friends and peers, and induces anxiety and emotional distress," forcing parents to shoulder burdens they were never meant to bear.

The strike, which drew teachers from the classrooms and into the picket lines, sought to tackle issues that teachers face in the trenches of public education. But the aftermath, wherein parents now seek to financially hold teachers to account, underscores the ripple effect of such labor disputes. As households grappled with the strike-induced childminding and the unpredictable treks to and from work, the $100 million figure attached to this lawsuit seems poised to utterly change the conversation around collective bargaining and its unintended casualties. It's a twist that many didn't see coming, especially on the threshold of what was supposed to be a new chapter in conflict resolution within Portland's education system.