After months of negotiations and rallies outside the schools, the Portland Public Schools and a workers union reached an agreement: The district’s employees worked hard during the COVID-19 pandemic and deserve to be recognized and rewarded for it.

This confirmation is in the form of a one-time payment of $ 1,000 to employees who helped distribute meals in schools over the past year.

In a statement announcing payment, the Service Employees International Union Local 503 called The negotiating year was “challenging” and said this one-time payment was a win for its members.

The school district said The payment is a way of recognizing the “unique contributions” made by these employees who personally worked on the food types in the district when schools were closed and utterly remote. The district said food service workers have served more than 3.5 million meals since the pandemic began.

At the school board To meet Last Tuesday, the SEIU Local 503 officer and Jackson Middle School director Greg Meyers called these employees the “face” of Portland Public Schools last year, saying they risked their health to feed students and their families.

“They did this without a vaccine, in the rain, in the freezing cold season, and in forest fires where Portland had the worst air quality in the world at one point in time, and they did it with just a one-sided bang – a tent, a mask and a pair of disposable gloves, ”said Meyers.

A teacher in Portland organized a crowdfunding website to raise funds for personal protective equipment for Portland Public Schools employees. In an update released earlier this week, teacher Beyoung Yu wrote So far enough money has been raised to provide a pack of KN96 masks to each SEIU Local 503 member.

SEIU Local 503 has also brought the district together to hire more union custodians. Referring to one approved by the voter binding Meyers asked the school board to consider SEIU’s proposal to modernize and rebuild schools in Portland.

“Do we want to hire and maintain supervisory staff to protect the multimillion-dollar trust our community has placed in us, or do we continue down the path we’ve taken for the past 15 years and check out these beautiful, new, shiny schools on is the catchphrase “moderately grubby?”

“Moderately grubby” is a term that SEIU Local 503 has made an exception to in its pursuit of higher standards of maintenance and staffing in the district. In the past documentsPortland Public Schools has used the term to describe current cleaning standards the standard of the Association of Physical Asset Managers for “moderate grubby”.

Reopening in his school materialsthe district has stated that there are no plans to increase the depot capacity. But the district is proposed budget For the next year, operational investments are included “in the required portfolio positions”.