On the Picket Line

Portland teachers walk out, their first strike ever

By Vincent Auger
November 27, 2023

PORTLAND, Ore. — Members and supporters of the Socialist Workers Party participating in the Portland Book Festival Nov. 4 took advantage of the opportunity to bring solidarity to two strikes in the area. The first-ever strike by members of the Portland Association of Teachers against the Public Schools system began Nov. 1. 

The same day, imaging technicians and pharmacists, members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555, walked out, joining a strike in progress by pharmacists at Kaiser Permanente medical facilities in the area.

Portland teachers picket at all 81 public schools every weekday morning. There are over 3,500 union teachers. The key issues are smaller classes, more time for on-the-job preparation and a substantial pay increase.

At a Vancouver, Washington, picket line, Kaiser striker Jen McRayde, an X-ray technician with 15 years on the job, said they’re fighting for higher wages. “Kaiser used to be top pay and benefits, now they’re below average,” she explained.

Kaiser Permanente is a “nonprofit” that reported profits of $2.3 billion in the second-quarter this year. Many strikers welcomed the solidarity as people driving by honked in support. Strikers will be picketing daily through Nov. 18 at facilities in Clackamas, Portland, and in Vancouver.