Reynolds members protest layoffs, cuts

In response to layoffs and reduced hours, 65 Reynolds School District employees and their supporters filled their school board meeting this week to emphasize how reductions harm students, workers and the community.

Nine classified employees were recently informed their jobs would be eliminated, and 45 secretaries will see reduced hours. This comes on top of years of skimpy or nonexistent raises in an area with skyrocketing housing and other associated costs of living. Several Reynolds teachers attended in a show of solidarity. KOIN-TV in Portland covered the meeting and video is below.

“We need the district to reprioritize these cuts because our workers have already taken economic hits for years, and we can’t afford more,” OSEA Field Representative Timothy Welp said.

Cheryl Rickerd, an educational assistant of OSEA Reynolds Chapter 37, emphasized the vital and oft-unglamourous tasks classified employees perform — duties that are sometimes encumbered by inadequate or missing equipment and supplies.

Cheryl Rickerd, left, explains the value classified employees deliver to students. Next to her is OSEA Field Representative Timothy Welp.

She asked board members if they’d ever witnessed custodians interrupting their own lunch to clean feces off a wall, the pain of an instructional assistant recovering from a concussion sustained on the job, monitoring life-threatening medical conditions or trying to remove gang-related graffiti, just to name a few tasks performed regularly by OSEA-represented employees.

“Until you have done all this, you cannot possibly understand the value of your classified staff,” Rickerd said. “Consider how this district would run without the talents of classified staff. We ask that you acknowledge our invaluable contributions to the functioning of your schools and treat us equitably.”

Welp said the layoffs came after workers would not accept drastic reductions in medical coverage as well as furlough days. He said negotiations would continue towards a fair contract.


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