MEDFORD, Ore. — The strike began as soon as the clock struck 6 a.m.
The overnight bargaining session didn’t end well and there’s still no resolution. After members of the Medford Education Association (MEA) and the Medford School District (MSD) had a chance to catch up on sleep after pulling the all-nighter, the back-and-forth began again. This time it was in a live interview on NewsWatch 12.
“We need a longer term contract that will allow us to actually stabilize our District,” said Superintendent Phil Long.
“How can we take a three year offer when you one year and your two of their offer is something that continues to break down our foundation? We’re not going put additions on without a good strong foundation,” said MEA President Cheryl Lashley.
The District reports paying teachers a total of about $101,000 per year on average. That includes salary and benefits. It’s the highest of any district in Jackson County.
NewsWatch 12’s Brian Morton questioned Lashley on the compensation. “Does the union recognize that the package you’re requesting is significantly better than people can get in their jobs in the private sector and how does that weigh in your negotiations, if it does?”
“Yes, I understand that the private sector is different and everyone deserves to have living wages and they deserve to have health care benefits and what we are asking for from the district especially in that first year is something that the district can afford,” Cheryl responded.
Since the teacher are not going to work, the District isn’t paying them. That totals about $280,000-$300,000 per day to use toward strike expenses for schools like substitutes and security guards.
Some members of the bargaining teams will meet again this weekend. But the District will be busy planning for school next week. That could cause a delay, even if the teams come to an agreement because there won’t be enough team members at the session to ratify a resolution. Those members would have to be called in.