Split Decision in Staff Lawsuit Vs. Oregon Education Association

Refer to this blog post from July for the background on the lawsuit filed against the Oregon Education Association by its own employees. In short, the staff contract requires OEA to maintain a certain staffing ratio in its field offices. It failed to do this, as it was in the midst of closing and consolidating five offices in an effort to reduce costs.

The contract calls for binding arbitration in such disputes, and last January an arbitrator ruled in favor of the staff union. When OEA failed to fully comply with the arbitatror’s decision, the staff union filed suit in U.S. District Court.

Judge Paul Papak ruled last week that of the five field offices involved, one was in compliance with the arbitrator’s ruling (Chintimini) and that it was in the realm of OEA’s authority to close the Eastern Oregon and Roseburg offices, thus eliminating any staffing requirements for those offices.

However, OEA’s offices in Klamath and North Bend have remained open and short of the proper staffing ratio, so Judge Papak ruled in favor of the staff in those instances.

It appears that rather than rehire staff for those offices, OEA is closing them down, making the judge’s decision a bit of a pyrrhic victory for the staff union.

Contract grievances around related issues still abound at OEA, which has a history of labor strife with its staff.