Teacher contract negotiations continue into early morning

PORTLAND, Ore. - A marathon mediation session between Portland teachers and Portland Public Schools that started at 9:30 a.m. Monday is still going on.

Both sides said they're not stopping anytime soon and will work through the night if they have to. But, Robb Cowie, a Portland Public Schools spokesman said there is no guarantee the talks will end with a final contract on the table that both sides agree to. There won't be a tentative agreement; there will either be a contract both parties can live with or no contract at all. And, there is no timeline for when the talks might end.

Cowie also said the state mediator could stay past the original 7:30 a.m. deadline on Tuesday. That will mark 22 straight hours of mediation this go-around. When the mediator does leave, both sides could agree to continue negotiations without the mediator present. They negotiated two days last week in that way.

Portland Association of Teachers President Gwen Sullivan said at 10:40 p.m., "It's going to be a long night... but we're happy to be here."

Both Cowie and Sullivan said both sides have had some substantive conversations during the talks, and that both sides have brought a lot of good ideas to the table.

And while teachers legally could strike now, the union says they're not considering that at this point. If they ddecide to strike at any time they must legally give the school district 10 days notice. The school district must give the teachers seven days notice to the teacher's union if it decides, at any time, to enforce its final offer on the table.

The proposals that are going back-and-forth during these round-the-clock talks are "package" proposals that address the remaining sticking points left to has out. They are also the most significant aspects of the contract. Those include: salary, health insurance, workload limitations, hiring and layoff processes, and length of the contract.

Teachers are upset that the district wants to cap health insurance and get rid of workload projections and early retirement.

The way this mediation works is that both sides are in separate rooms and they send representatives into a neutral room every couple of hours to meet.

These negotiations have been going on since last April and more than 100 hours of talks have happened in the past few weeks.

KATU's Valerie Hurst contributed to this story.

This story will be updated as developments unfold.