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Teachers Vote in Favor of Strike

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MEDFORD, Ore. — The MEA President said teachers showed overwhelming support of a strike at Thursday night’s meeting, but that doesn’t mean the strike will happen immediately.

Nearly 600 people filed into the Ramada Inn Convention Center in Medford for Thursday night’s strike vote. This vote aimed to gauge support from MEA members.

The next step toward a strike would be to give the district 10 days’ notice of intent, and while that has not happened yet, the school district is still disappointed in the outcome of the vote.

“While I’m disappointed in the vote, I’m hopeful that we’re going to be meeting with the association tomorrow to see if we can make progress toward concluding the project,” said Superintendent Dr. Phil Long.

Dr. Long says the district and the union have come to an agreement on 13 out of 19 articles. The remaining issues concern class size, early retirement benefits and health insurance.

The bargaining meeting between the district and the teachers is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday morning.

28 comments

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  1. Kelly R. says:

    It never was about the kids. Unions only care about money and power. As a taxpayer I am sick a tired of teacher unions gouging the taxpayer while our kids get a substandard education.

  2. carl says:

    Don’t the teacher know that whenever there is a strike……YOU never recoup what you lost???

  3. DAN says:

    KUDOS TO KELLY R. SHE HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD! ITS NEVER BEEN ABOUT THE CLASSROOM OR THE KIDS ABOUT THEM WANTING MORE MONEY TO PUT IN THEIR
    POCKETS!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Mel says:

    It is all about the money. Some teachers care about the students but for many, it is about a 9 month work year, good pay and taxpayer funded benefits. While the majority of people are taking pay cuts and struggling to get by, the unions of this country feel its time to increase their greed. Pay is based upon performance and if we applied that to teaching, most teachers today would receive a failing grade. Its always the same song with these people. Wake up taxpayers!!!!!!!!!!

  5. joey says:

    You can’t logically make the argument that educators need to show up on time everyday with all their lessons planned just for the sake of the kids. If that were the case, then doctors and nurses would accept $9.10 an hour without blinking and supply their own band-aids. Teachers need to be meticulously vetted and they deserve to be held to a professional high standard that matches their pay. To say they do it for love over-looks the notion that humans are allowed to decide who they love and how much. Pay them to be professional and expect nothing less than complete professionalism…

    First things first, though; this is a contract negotiation. This is about working class folks being given less and less each year by the wealthy people who decide who gets how much. The city has no problem throwing $8 million into one person’s pocket to build a structure downtown, only to benefit a few folks at the top, so why can’t they come up with 3% for the very people who are building our future? The American way of life is in a death spiral and folks like Mel, Dan, Carl and Kelly are only pouring gas on the fire by spitting poorly worded and misspelled venom at hard working people.

    If you want good teachers who enjoy living in a thriving community, then you need to treat them well.

    Smart people are always on the side of the teachers!

    1. Dawn says:

      Exactly! I’m glad to see someone else here with some common sense. I would be appalled at going to school for 5-6 years for a Master’s Degree in Teaching to get paid less than a fast food worker. Teachers deserve the support & respect here. Dr. Long has been full of himself for many years, and that is a big reason why he is gone coming this June. My hope is that they get someone in there who will undo his damage & put the teachers and children FIRST.

      1. Anonymous says:

        I am a teacher, with a Masters of Arts in Teaching. I was shocked when I was hired on my first year making $27 plus an hour! Plus $1000+ a month in benefits (with the option of upgrading my plan out of my own pocket). My insurance covered my entire family, including dental and vision. What a blessing. I had the option of taking my pay check over 9 months or 12 months. I obviously chose 12 so I could have a paycheck thru the summer. It is an option for each educator to do that, it shocks me to hear teachers say they are only paid for 9 months…that is all they work, so it makes sense that is how they are paid. If you aren’t happy what you are making, then it might be a good idea to search for a new job. Teachers make FAR above the minimum wage. Some do put in more hours, and what wonderful teachers they are. However, that is their choice as well. I put in many extra hours for my students, but it was my choice, never something that was forced or expected of me. While I totally understand the reason for the current fight, I will also say, that after experiencing the strike in Eagle Point, the damage that is done is serious, deep and will take YEARS to recover from. The turnover has been immense, the heartbreak is evident. While positive things are happening, there is an underlying tone of devastation. A strike is not the way to go, it is insulting to everyone else who doesn’t have a big money union screaming on their behalf, who have had wages cut and benefits cut. It isn’t right, but making a scene about it and making thousands of students, their families and our community suffer a strike isn’t either.

        And how is a strike vote done? Like most things the OEA promotes, through fear and intimidation. Staff is gathered in a public room and your vote of yes requires you to stand, those who vote no are to stay seated. It is humiliating and lacks privacy and tact. Research what the OEA does, who supports them and what they truly support. Often, it is their own agenda.
        My best to the hard working educators, I do think they deserve more, but the economy is not allowing for that. Maybe the Union would be willing to take their portion of the teachers paychecks (which educators are required to pay dues) and invest that into teacher salaries and more teaching positions. Seems like a better use of money than investing in the OEA in Salem to fight a fight that is not theirs to fight, in a community they are not a part of, or ever have been.
        Praying an agreement today!!!

  6. joey says:

    I hope I’m not the only one who noticed that all the arguments in favor of the city seem to have been written by people who wouldn’t by able to pass the written section of a GED test if they had to take one today…. Hmmm…

    1. Sara says:

      Same!

      These are professionals who for YEARS have been accepting lower and lower pay (among the lowest in the state), reductions in benefits, etc. because of the economic situation and love for the job and the kids.

      The financial situation has improved, and it’s now time for the district to hold up their end of the *legal agreements* made.

      Where’s the money, people of the board? It’s not going to the classrooms or the teachers.

    2. Dawn says:

      Well said Joey :)

    3. MHB says:

      I posted something similar, but it was denied!

      I have only lived in the area for a brief time, but I am amazed by the priorities around here. I grew up in an area where education was the biggest priority. We had a ton of kids around, well-paid public school teachers, and parents who actually bought homes based on falling within the district boundaries. Not to mention, property becomes worth quite a bit more when the nearby public schools are good, so any property owner in the area would benefit from improving local schools.
      It seems like many around here can’t see the forest for the trees and I can’t wrap my brain around that. This isn’t people whining about how they should make $15/hour to serve you a Big Mac. This is about people that we entrust with our children, all day long, 5 days a week, for 12 years (and 1 year of half-days). During the school year, teachers see your children more than you do and I will never understand why some people seem to recognize very little value in that. We are already planning to move away from here in the next year just to live in an area where teachers are more highly valued and where they haven’t completely cut so many programs from the curriculum. We value the education our children receive and will pay more to live in an area that better coincides with our views.

  7. Dawn says:

    I fully support our Medford Teachers. Unless you are a public school teacher you truly don’t know what the real problems are. There is little to no support, their pay has been cut, their benefits are incredibly expensive, all the supplies your children use from school (and no not the ones you bought & sent with them) come out of the teachers pockets. Stop blaming the victims here, they are doing what they need to do to be heard. They make little more than flipping a burger at McDonald’s. The people interested in being money hungry are not teachers, deserve to be compensated fairly considering they are REQUIRED to have a Master’s degree to teach for such a small salary. No, the money motivated people are the superintendents (Dr. Phil Long) and everyone at the top of the mountain. They get paid well in excess of a 6 figure income. They don’t work 12 hours a day (yes your teachers DO), they don’t have a classroom full of children that need individualized attention and lesson plans (think about learning disorders) and they have LOTS of assistants and people working for them where teachers are lucky to get a classroom parent to volunteer their time and help.

    How do you expect our children to get a quality education if we as taxpayers don’t support them, refuse to help with our tax money & allow the administrative staff to roll in money while teachers are barely making it month to month? Would you be able to live on minimum wage with a family, working those kind of hours, a lot of them UNPAID when they are sitting after hours grading YOUR child’s homework & working on lesson plans, and paying a premium price for health insurance that is only catastrophic coverage with a $7,500 deductibles and up to $800 a month in premiums for a married couple? Get your facts straight before you cast stones. That’s what those people up at the top of the school hierarchy want you to believe. They are the 1%, the teachers and school workers are at the bottom in the 98%. Do your homework and educate yourselves before you attack a teacher. And if you don’t have kids you truly know nothing about the issues here. You don’t want to contribute to the school system for the local youth yet most likely you had your schooling in the public school paid for by, you guessed it, taxpayers that didn’t have kids either.

    1. carl says:

      Wow……a little more than minimum wage?? Starting is around 39K a year! Wish I could got to go to work and get paid four hours to plan for work, Seems like….when I went to school….we started in Sept…..went thru somewhere the first part of June. 3 months off in the summer….a few days off for Thanksgiving…and a week for Christmas and our spring break. Now its like a week for Thanksgiving…..2 weeks for Xmas….at least a week for spring break….usually more.

  8. bri says:

    I want to take the time … as one of those teachers who apparently makes too much and works too little to THANK the readers of this forum who bothered to
    1. Talk to a teacher about this negotiation
    OR
    2. READ the issues on the table ..

    Because this is about respect for what we do .. this is about trust in your community and your elected leaders .. this is about honoring commitments.. but mostly this is about our kids.

    . I know the haters out there believe – or want everyone else to believe – we are out for ourselves .. and yes for once the teachers in MSD are considering their own needs. But it is also about a SCHOOL BOARD that has BROKEN APART this district …and is not breaking apart this community .. they have done everything in this process to put up road blocks from the beginning. MSD stopped the collaborative process! MSD refused to negotiate at the table.. MSD implemented a contract that CLEARLY disregards what needs to happen in the classroom –MSD forced this vote to happen..
    I get the haters out there — you hate that I work 9 months ( when I do not ) .. you hate that I get medical benefits ( which are limited at best) you hate that I Say NO (after 10 YEARS of cuts to my pay check ).. But remember this each and every day that I have been disrespected by this board iTeach.. iTeach because I am good at what I do … iTeach because I believe our future is worth it .. This contract is not all about the money .. it is about the respect .. and it is time that this community has a voice and tells the Board Members of MSD that they need to respect the teachers .. respect the community and respect our kids .. If you have read both proposals .. you should be asking WHY DID SALLY KILLEN AND KIM WALLEN LET THIS GET TO THIS POINT … THAT IS THE PROBLEM IN THIS NEGORATION …

    1. MHB says:

      I was on the side of the teachers until I read this post. I’m not against what it says, but the manner in which it says it. This post sounds like it came from a teenager ranting on facebook, not a teacher who I would trust to educate my children.
      Seeing the word “hater” and an all-caps conclusion to a post by a presumably grown person crushed a little bit of my faith in teachers.

  9. cromwell covington says:

    I find it frustrating for the school boards lack of diplomacy in order for the impending strike for the 600 teachers of the Medford School District. Thanks are in order to out elected officials in Salem who saw this on the horizon and appropriated $12-13 million in funds to prevent this from occurring. Why the school chose to not direct this money in a manner as to what it was stipulated for causes confusion. The board claims there is no money but they recently donated $400,000 for a medical motorhome to La Clinica. That money could have been used to hiring around 10 new teachers if lower class room size really is a concern. With state and federal grant money available for La Clinica don’t see how that donation was justified. Obviously Sally Killen does not support early retirement benefits now even though she collected them for years since she took the early compensation package. Wonder if she would like to refund the district the amount she collected since she does not think teachers facing retirement now deserve them? Dr. Long, it is very misleading to keep posting these gaudy salary figures for teachers. With a starting salary in the $30,000 range many teachers starting out with a family could qualify for a Oregon Trail card or other state assistance if they so desired. Since the district is self insured and not paying a premium to a recognized insurer the district sets the premium then keeps the funds not spent so the total compensation value is set at what ever dollar amount the district decides. I do understand that most of your financial data is supplied by Brad Earl and most of us remember the impending bankruptcy he left Harry & David with following his departure. Ironic that the Bear Creek Corp is now financially stable but now the district is in financial despair. Teachers pay property taxes as well as social security tax also. In a different twist they are actually paying part of their salary as well as into social security which I hope will benefit from by collecting sometime. I am not a teacher or district employee but did walk with other community members from the armory to the last board meeting to gain some insight from those involved and not just what the press chooses to print or broadcast. The level of commitment from our teachers to their students is unwavering, unquestionable. and undeniable. For them to put their careers on the line in order to benefits the students is commendable. My sincere hope is that our board members partially comprised of two unemployed attorneys, a insurance salesmen, community college teacher, a yoga instructor can rectify this situation that the negotiation team, our state senators, and others have spent 10 months trying to avoid. It is unfathomable how Kim Wallen and Sally Killen are dictating the future education of the approximately 12,000 students that will be negatively affected.

  10. Frank says:

    Teachers have been patted on their behinds to much, and have been put up on too high of a pedestal. Medford teachers pay and benefits are comparable to So. California, BUT here in Oregon, it doesn’t cost $1500 a month to rent a 980 square feet house with no yard like in California. Police Officers, and Firefighters are not allowed to strike in California. In my opinion Police Officers, and Firefighters are just as important as teachers. If I was to hang up my badge in protest, the citizens suffer, HENCE by law they cannot strike. If these greedy teachers saw past their bank accounts, they would see the suffering they are doing to the kids. Whining the words….”waaahhh I only make $40k a year starting with benefits, and have to work a part of the year!” That makes you all look like lazy, and greedy SOB’S… If you dont like you wage of $27 hr +/- in the economy where people are loosing their homes, and most of your students parents make $9.10 and hour, do us parents a favor, and change jobs (please try to relocate out of the valley as well)

  11. MHB says:

    I’m astonished by the people saying teachers are in it for the money. If they are out for money, they’re in the wrong line of work. Educators are the backbone of modern society. Not offering competitive wages to our teachers is exactly why the U.S. falls behind in essentially every subject when measured on a global scale. If they are paid what they are worth, we end up with more people being attracted to the positions, allowing us to be more selective, resulting in higher quality teachers, and ultimately, better-educated kids.

    Most parents make $9.10/hour? I don’t think that I have made $9.10/hour since I was a teenager, and that was a couple decades ago. If you can’t work your way out of minimum wage well into adulthood, perhaps you should try another line of work or seek out additional education. Medford residents barely pay taxes on anything – no sales tax in the state & property taxes are very low (relative to virtually every similarly populated city/town in the country) despite all of the complaining I hear from my neighbor – and people will STILL complain about how much of their tax dollars go to such-and-such.

    I volunteer at a local school and have seen first-hand how hard teachers work. Someone above mentioned that they are no better than police or firefighters. Maybe they are no better or worse, but they do have higher education requirements which, throughout time, have equated to higher salaries. I’d rather pay top dollar for teachers who will provide a high-quality educational environment for kids than skimp and hope for the best.

  12. MBH says:

    Also, am I the only one who sees the irony in the direct correlation between not wanting to pay teachers more and not being able to spell or to use appropriate grammar or punctuation?

  13. Frank says:

    OMG…. Is it true that the MEA just changed their phone number to 1-(800) WAAAAAAH!! Seriously though folks, don’t go away mad, just go away :-) I know of many teachers that will work for what the district is offering. I guess the question I have is, doesn’t a substitute teacher have to pass the same test as a full time teacher in the state of Oregon? I will look that up for my own ettification…. I will be right back :-)

  14. MHB says:

    Substitutes have less stringent requirements than full teachers.
    For example, I would qualify for a substitute teacher position, but lack the licensing required for a full-time teaching position.
    Quoting Motley Crue (without proper citation, no less) really does nothing for your cause.
    It’s edification, not ettification, unless you’re perhaps looking up the lyrics to “At Last” to quote in your next post without properly citing it.

  15. frank says:

    Soooo I have to assume that your past career was an editor for “The Head Bangers Ball”… My apologies to the “grammar police”…lol I saw that you pondered moving to a different location due to the level of educational pay? If you need help moving, let me know :-)

    So let me ask you this? Since you would qualify to be a sub, are you willing to do so in this time of need (Feb 6th on)? OR, are you willing to stay on the 2nd level of the “Muppets” theater next to the two old man muppets that offer opinion, and nothing else? I’m gladly going to be in the classroom teaching myself…. of course that’s just me :-)

    1. Lucy says:

      Frank…I assume that you will not accept the benefit package, whatever it may be, at the end of the strike, since you will be “gladly teaching…” and will continue with what the district wanted to give you, correct?

      1. Frank says:

        Yes I will….. When I took a job such as this, I did it with gratitude, and understanding that I was making decent money (especially compared to surrounding states), the cost of living here is STILL ridiculously low, and first and foremost the gratification of educating the children of tomorrow. And I completely believe that there has to be some give and take from both sides, BUT walking away from our classes is a direct slap to the students faces, PERIOD. Nobody is forcing anyone to stop working, it’s completely elective on the individual teachers part. Honestly, if no one can agree, and the teachers are fed up…..well….. they need to resign and find work elsewhere. I would much rather see a teacher leave (to go teach elsewhere to find happiness), then leave a student “high and dry”… If my children’s consistency (which is fundamental) in education is halted/compromised by a strike, it tells me that his/her teacher will always put themselves before the kids, period!

        Someone posted previously that a happy teacher makes for a happy student…. I can assure you that belief probably came from a BMW driving trophy wife from So. Cal…..

  16. MHB says:

    We are likely moving due to the lack of local interest, not only pay, in education, which is glaringly apparent if you are ever actually in some of the public schools around here. I actually would rather not substitute and hinder the efforts of teachers who deserve the pay they are seeking. I also never took the tests to substitute teach because I don’t have time to devote to another job. I do, however, offer quite a bit more to the elementary school near me throughout the year. I do it for free and I do it for the entire school year, not just periodically in an attempt to prove a point.

    I’m not sure how you could possibly know whether I offer only opinions or solutions when you have no clue about my activities, but you’d be better on your comparison if you made me one of the Electric Mayhem Muppets since that would work better with the Headbangers Ball reference. It is also really strange to me that you would be telling me to move away based on a difference of opinion, whether it is a sarcastic remark or an honest one. That’s just childish and rude. That type of close-mindedness is unfortunately inherent in lesser-educated communities.

    I do find it exceedingly amusing that you are actually trying to hurl insults at someone for pointing out your errors on a thread attached to an article about our educational system.
    It really is the epitome of irony.

  17. Mary says:

    As a parent and community member, I totally SUPPORT the teachers 100%!
    Many of these ignorant posts are surely not parents…..because parents know how hard these teachers work- many, many hours daily at school and at home and also, on weekends.

    My children’s teachers have gone above and beyond to support my kids and assure me that they are in my child’s corner for the best education possible.

    Ignorance of the facts does not make it so. Do some homework folks….look at the budgets, there is money. After all, these committed teachers and educators have lost pay, worked extra days for many years during lean times and for what? OUR CHILDREN!
    MEA members/teachers, ignore the ignorance please. You have our support and are so grateful for your care and education of our children. You deserve so much more than what you are asking for. Shame on the board and Dr. Long.
    We have your back.

    1. Frank says:

      MEA…. Please don’t let Mary speak for ALL of the parents here, she supports you. I on the other hand, well, I don’t at all. And yes I am a proud parent of an amazing son. I am also a parent that recently moved into the Rouge Valley “bubble”. Coming from out of state, and seeing it FIRST HAND; there are a lot of other great teachers out of state also, that take the job for the same to less money, and live in a MUCH higher cost of living for their region. I would probably side with the MEA if I grew up in the Medford “bubble”, but I didn’t. I have traveled the U.S., I have seen other education systems, and when you compare them all, Medford teachers are doing fine…. The only problem I have is that they are willing to attempt to stalemate my children’s education by bailing on them (and the rest of the students as well).. The should just find other school districts to work for that have the benefits/pay that they want. I would have much more respect for them if the did that instead.

  18. Earl says:

    With all the hating on those “greedy” teachers, why isn’t anyone mentioning the school district administrators’ 100k + annual salaries? Medford teachers have sacrificed for years, and all the while the administrators have continued to get raises.

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