2023 has been a hotbed for strikes in many different industries. Most famously there was a pause in the entertainment industry as the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild went on strike against major production companies (with the Screen Actors Guild still striking). The United Auto Workers went on strike against the Detroit Big Three. Local educator unions throughout California were striking as well. For the most part, the strikes were highly successful, allowing the unions to make big wins for their respective industries. Now, local Oregon educator unions join the ranks of those striking.
The Portland Association of Teachers, or PAT for short, has officially gone on its first strike as of last week.
With this historic first time strike from the union, they are not acting shy or coy with making their demands. The Portland Association of Teachers is calling for higher pay, improvements to the schools’ infrastructure, and more mental health specialists to be on staff to aid children in need of mental health support. Overall, the teacher’s main goal lies in getting more proper resources for the students. One third grade teacher with over 33 years of experience, Shelley Simonsen, said that she wants kids with learning disabilities and special learning needs to have stronger support from the district and administration.
According to a speaker for the strike, they have nearly gone on strike many times before, but ultimately always pulled back. The changed feature that brought them to striking this time around? The strikes happening around the country in other industries and the current “pro-union” President sitting in the White House. Seeing the ground gained by the Writer’s Strike and auto strike inspired the teachers to finally stand up and call for their demanded improvements as well.
The strike that inspired PAT the most is the nurses of Kaiser Permanente.
The Vice President of PAT, Jacque Dixon, spoke about the similarities she sees with nurses and teachers. She spoke on the fact that both jobs are most commonly in the female majority. Because of the sociological feeling that the positions are gendered (even if there is nothing actually making them be) it raises bigger issues in terms of the lack of proper pay. Dixon said, “Have they gotten away with not paying educators and nurses what they deserve for so long because it’s a predominantly female workforce?”