Parents’ Rights in Education Secures Plaintiffs for Suit Against Portland Teachers Union

Lawsuit Seeking Damages in Excess of $100 Million Filed Against the Portland Association of Teachers

Parents seek justice for illegal strike resulting in weeks of missed classes, extracurriculars


Chicago, IL — Today, a group of Portland Public Schools parents filed a lawsuit seeking damages in excess of $100 million from the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) and the Oregon Education Association (OEA) for their November 2023 strike, which resulted in nearly a month of shuttered schools for over 44,000 students and their families.


The parents are represented by attorneys Patrick Hughes and Daniel Suhr, who recently filed similar lawsuits in four other jurisdictions across the country and are known for their leading roles in the U.S. Supreme Court cases Janus v. AFSCME and BST Holdings, LLC v. OSHA.


The Nov. 1 to Nov. 26, 2023, strike resulted in nearly a month of closed classrooms and missed extracurricular activities. Shutting down schools causes learning loss, cuts students off from activities such as sports and music, distances them from friends and peers, and induces anxiety and emotional distress. Parents are forced to pay for childcare out of pocket, take leave or skip shifts at work, and deal with abrupt changes and confusion. This lawsuit seeks compensation for the families who endured that disruption because of this illegal strike.


“Study after study demonstrates the harmful and long-lasting negative effects teacher strikes have on students,” attorney Daniel Suhr said. “The PAT’s illegal strike especially hurt already vulnerable families from low-income households and children with learning disabilities. These families have a right to an uninterrupted education focused on student achievement and development, not union politics.”


Oregon law is clear that public employees may only “participate in a strike over mandatory subjects of bargaining.” PAT violated this law, making bargaining demands on a number of topics specifically excluded by law from the mandatory bargaining process. Had the list of stipulations only concerned mandatory subjects of bargaining, the strike may have been significantly shorter or not happened at all. This clearly was not PAT’s intention; their egregious behavior intentionally interrupted their students’ lives. As one teacher admitted at the time, their goal was not just higher wages or better benefits, but “a paradigm shift for the state of Oregon” about how public schools operate, questions that are properly reserved to elected officials, not closed-door union bargaining.


For fear of retaliation and the privacy of their students, the four plaintiff families in this case are asking to remain anonymous.


“The union knew the law and decided to break it anyway to exert political power at the expense of students and their families. These families deserve to be made whole for the damage caused, and we are honored to represent the parents in this case to ensure this never happens again,” said Pat Hughes.


Legal Actions and Goals:

This lawsuit pursues damages for the impacted families, who suffered at the hands of the agenda-driven PAT. Despite the PAT admitting they understood the “toll that [the strike’s] uncertainty is having on . . . families,” they continued to strike unlawfully for subjects that were not lawful bargaining topics. The complaint filed seeks cancellation of the contract, which was only entered into under duress. This litigation seeks justice, accountability, and fair compensation to anyone harmed by this union’s deliberate lawbreaking.


The first step in this case is a complaint and investigation by the State of Oregon Employment Relations Board (ERB), a state agency charged with administering the state’s collective bargaining statutes. After the board, the parties may appeal the case to Oregon’s courts.