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Teachers in Portland Public Schools are going on strike, shuttering schools Wednesday

By Chris Boyette, CNN

(CNN) — Public schools in Portland, Oregon, will be closed Wednesday as teachers go on strike with no agreement reached between their union and the school district on a new contract.

“It’s official: We are on strike to ensure the district meets our demands so that every Portland student can attend a great public school,” the Portland Association of Teachers said in a Facebook post Tuesday.

Portland Public Schools – one of the largest school districts in the Pacific Northwest – has more than 49,000 students across its 81 schools, according to the district’s website. The union represents more than 4,000 certified educators in the district, according to its Facebook page.

The work stoppage comes as thousands of workers across the country have gone on strike in recent months, from Hollywood writers to nurses, factory workers and autoworkers.

In March, a union representing 30,000 Los Angeles school custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers and other support staff went on a three-day strike that effectively stopped classes for more than a half million students in the nation’s second-largest school system. Other school districts across the country, including those in Seattle, Minneapolis, and Columbus, Ohio, have also dealt with strikes in recent years as educators and school workers demand better working conditions.

The teachers in Portland are headed to the picket lines after months of negotiations with the district for a new three-year contract.

The top issues include compensation, student discipline, class size and the use of school resources to provide housing for students experiencing homelessness, according to Portland Public Schools.

Among the points of contention is the union’s request for a 23% cost-of-living increase over the next three years, according to the district, which is countering with a cumulative 10.9% cost-of-living increase over the same period.

“Educators deserve salaries and benefits that mean they can afford to live in the neighborhoods where they and their students live,” the union said on its website.

A representative said the union received a proposal Tuesday that did not meet its expectations.

“We were told to expect a proposal from the district this afternoon and we had fairly low expectations for this,” the representative said in a video statement posted on Facebook. “And unfortunately, the district’s proposal didn’t even live up to our low expectations.”

The district has not responded to CNN’s request for comment on the strike, but posted that it will update families on Wednesday evening on whether schools will reopen or remain closed Thursday.

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