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MailTribune.com
  • Eagle Point school strike deadline arrives

    Last-minute bargaining continued late Monday, but school official said he expected 'worst-case scenario'
  • The Eagle Point School District stood on the precipice of a strike late Monday, with no contract settlement in sight and employees preparing to picket district buildings and formally begin their strike this morning.
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  • The Eagle Point School District stood on the precipice of a strike late Monday, with no contract settlement in sight and employees preparing to picket district buildings and formally begin their strike this morning.
    There will be no school today in the district, but school administrators say they will have enough substitutes available to resume classes Wednesday.
    Bargaining teams for both sides began their last scheduled mediation session at 1 p.m. Monday, with a number of contract articles still undecided after 14 months of negotiations.
    "We're going to work as hard as we can," said Mike Remick, district human resources director, before heading into bargaining Monday afternoon. "But everyone is preparing for the worst-case scenario."
    As the deadline neared, both sides ratcheted up the heat.
    District administration lodged an unfair labor practice complaint against the Eagle Point Education Association Friday, alleging the employee union broke its contract by using the district's email system to make strike preparations.
    The district lodged the claim with the Oregon Employee Relations Board almost two weeks after the EPEA lodged its own complaint against the district, alleging that administrators had harassed employees about whether they intend to strike.
    On Monday, the employee union revised its claim, adding that district administrators have informally polled employees of their intent to strike, and claiming that the administration was harassing potential substitute teachers, threatening to cut their ties with the district should they refuse to substitute during the strike.
    Remick said the claim that the administration had polled employees of their intent to strike was false, and the administration had no idea which employees had strike intentions.
    Remick said the district had followed a strict practice of not talking with employees about the strike.
    "If there's a strike, we'll know then who is participating," said Remick. "This is very upsetting to us."
    Remick also said the district had identified more than enough substitute employees to work should a strike happen.
    The Oregon Employment Relations Board acknowledged receipt of the two complaints, and has assigned them to administrative law judges, but no timeline is set for a decision.
    Administration asked teachers to collect their personal belongings from classrooms Monday and to turn in to the district property such as keys and electronics.
    "We really have no way of knowing how long we're going to be gone," said teacher Adrienne Dunkin after packing several plastic containers of belongings into her car.
    Before leaving, teachers were asked to provide 10 days of lesson plans, five days more than they are expected to have ready normally.
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