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A timeline of Medford teachers' contract negotiations

  • Spring 2013: Negotiations between the Medford School District and the Medford Education Association begin for a new teachers' contract that's supposed to begin July 1, 2013.
  • Aug. 6, 2013: 10th collective bargaining session brings teachers and the district no closer to a compromise. District offers 3.2 percent increase in year one of a three-year contract, 1 percent increases the following two years. Teachers would have to pick up the 6 percent PERS contribution. Union wants 5 percent raise, no change in PERS and increased benefit contributions.
  • Aug. 22, 2013: District declares mediation will be needed to resolve differences between proposals. Union accuses district of resorting to "game playing."
  • Sept. 24, 2013: District offers 6 percent raise in first year but doesn't budge on PERS contribution; union representative Cheryl Lashley tells supporters during a rally that the district's offer would leave teachers working longer hours and more days with a net 3 percent decrease in pay.
  • October 2013: MEA files unfair labor practice complaint with the Oregon Employment Relations Board claiming the district was negotiating in "bad faith" for failing to restore days and/or increase insurance coverage and salaries after the district received more money from the state last May. The district maintains there was no language in a memorandum of understanding that the district was required to take those steps.
  • Nov. 1, 2013: District announces its "best offer" to the MEA after 18 hours of negotiations the previous day. It includes an 8 percent salary increase the first year and 1 percent the following two years, but teachers would have to pay the 6 percent PERS. Lashley says the district's offer lengthens teachers' work year by a week without extra compensation and would result in 1.25 percent cut in pay.
  • Nov. 5, 2013: Both sides reach an official impasse, which starts the clock toward a possible strike in December.
  • Nov. 20, 2013: The countdown on a 30-day "cooling off" period begins after the two sides submit their proposals to the state's employee relations board. District offers 10 percent increase first year, 1 percent following two years, increases work year by six days and requires teachers to pay PERS. Teachers want 3.75 percent raises in each of the next two years and the district to continue making the PERS payment. District wants 192 contract days, teachers 190. District proposes $1,050 monthly cap on insurance premiums, teachers ask that they pay 5 percent of premium costs. Both sides agree to meet in small bargaining groups in hopes of avoiding a strike.
  • Dec. 12, 2013: Sides meet for 10 hours but are unable to agree on a new contract.
  • Dec. 13, 2013: Medford School Board votes to implement district's latest contract offer without approval of the union, as is allowed by law. It gives teachers a 12 percent pay increase total over three years, with the initial 10 percent raises beginning Dec. 20 and retroactive to the beginning of the school year. Teachers are responsible for PERS contribution. Health insurance coverage is capped at $12,600 per year, and the district will sunset its early retirement option in March, instead offering $1,500 per year of work to teachers who are retiring. School year has been extended by six student days at the secondary schools — to 176 days — and by four student days at the elementary level — to 174 days — plus two parent-teacher conference days.
  • Early January, 2014: State Sen. Alan Bates urges school board members, district administration and union officials to come together on common ground "under an umbrella of mutual respect" and negotiate a contract that is fair to both parties. "The worst thing we can do is strike," Bates said.
  • Jan. 7: District and union come to tentative agreement on six articles within the contract after nine hours of negotiations. These include "Contract Duration and Conditions," the district's "Grievance" process, "Bargaining Unit Member Rights," covering the rights of teachers, "Reduction in Force," or layoff policy, "Extra Compensation," and "Joint Committees."
  • Jan. 10: District reduces work year from 192 days to 190 and redefines teacher prep, grading and collaborative time.
  • Jan. 13: Teachers and community members pack school board meeting in support of union.
  • Jan. 14: District asks union to present district's latest offer to teachers, but the union does not immediately respond. School board members report that "nasty" and "passionate" letters have been flooding their mailboxes and inboxes.
  • Jan. 21: MEA holds public forum in Medford; about 100 people attend.
  • Jan. 23: Medford teachers vote overwhelming to authorize a strike. About 95 percent of the district's 600 teachers attend the event at the Ramada Inn.
  • Jan. 24: MEA bargaining team walks out of negotiations with district after less than an hour, saying the district was unwilling to budge on its latest contract offer. Teachers want a two-year contract instead of three, 10.6 to 11.09 percent raises to help offset PERS contribution, and to phase out an early retirement benefit over 29 years.
  • Jan. 25: MEA announces its intent to strike Feb. 6 if an agreement isn't reached before then. It notifies the district officially on Jan. 27, giving 10 days' notice as required by law.
  • Jan. 28: Union and district bargaining teams meet separately with state mediators, but after nearly nine hours, no agreement is reached.
  • Jan. 29: School Board declares state of emergency; Superintendent Phil Long says if teachers do strike, schools will be combined, class days halved and all sports and after-school activities canceled; a final-hour negotiating session is scheduled for Feb. 5.
  • Jan. 31: After receiving calls from parents and community members willing to help, the district decides to continue high school sports during a strike, but youth and middle school sports and extracurricular activities still would be canceled. School closures also would mean 330 YMCA students lose out on games and practices.
  • Feb. 2: District takes out a full-page advertisement touting its position in the Mail Tribune and sets up call center for parents; union leases a space on Hawthorne Street as strike headquarters.

  • Feb. 4: Nine hours of negotiations with state mediators end without resolution, but both sides agree to meet the following day. About 180 community members attend a union forum to hear teachers describe options they would have for their children in the event of a strike.
  • Feb. 5: Teachers clear out their classrooms and say tearful goodbyes to students. High school and middle school students are let out early. Classes are canceled Feb. 6. Negotiations continue throughout the night with no resolution.
  • Feb. 6: After 21 hours of negotiations failed to reach an agreement, teachers strike at 6 a.m.; hundreds picket outside administrative offices at Central High School throughout the day. School is closed for three days while administration hires and trains substitutes.
  • Feb. 8: Daylong bargaining reaches another dead-end.
  • Feb. 10: Curtis Blake Weller, a former Central Point educator and husband of a North Medford music teacher, starts the process for recalling School Board members Sally Killen, Jeff Thomas, Marlene Yesquen and Kim Wallan.
  • Feb. 11: School resumes; 68 percent attend districtwide. North Medford seniors reportedly walk out after morning assembly. Students, parents report crowded classrooms.
  • Feb. 12: Daylong bargaining shows some movement but no agreement, district says. Attendance drops to 52 percent.
  • Feb. 13: Day starts out hopeful but negotiations end in a stalemate. College credit for Advanced Placement classes at Medford high schools have been put on hold until the teachers’ strike is over, Southern Oregon University officials say. Attendance drops to 48 percent.
  • Feb. 14: District reopens gymnasium for previously scheduled community events, including YMCA sports programs. Attendance drops to 44 percent.
  • Feb. 15: About 600 people, about half teachers, the other half members of other unions, rally in Hawthorne Park.

    — From Mail Tribune archives