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Teachers hash over latest proposals, may take break from picketing

After two days of nonstop bargaining with the Medford School District, the teachers' union is taking today to get members up to speed on the latest round of proposals, a union representative said.

Hundreds of teachers forwent picketing this morning to meet at a conference room at the Ramada Inn on Biddle Road to dissect how the most recent round of negotiations played out.

"We know they have the money to settle a two-year contract now," said Rebecca Konefal, a consultant with the Oregon Education Association and spokesperson for the Medford Education Association, the teachers' union.

Konefal said the district is insistent upon settling a three-year contract instead, and one that would mean less take-home pay for teachers in year three.

"If that's the case, it doesn't do us any good to talk about the third year," she said.

While she couldn't speak to every scenario that may have popped up at the bargaining table over the last two days, Konefal said working conditions and compensation were what was left for the two sides to hash out.

"The district has been wanting to talk money," she said, explaining that teachers were equally concerned with working conditions, including protecting prep time, guaranteeing professional working committees and fair caseloads for every instructor.

"(The district) wants more control over the workplace," said Konefal.

Konefal said the teachers might head out to picket this afternoon after their meeting, or may take a break until tomorrow, when a rally thrown by other local teachers' unions will take place.

She said community groups were helping to organize the rally, which will happen from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Hawthorne Park.

— Teresa Ristow