Work Shouldn’t Hurt

In the fall of 2015, OSEA launched its Work Shouldn’t Hurt Campaign with a series of investigative articles examining workplace violence involving special needs students and classified school employees. Since then, OSEA has successfully promoted legislation and changes in Oregon OSHA rules to help combat the problem.

OSEA has also developed resources to help special education assistants access their students’ Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and report their injuries, as well as guide OSEA chapters on how to use safety committees to hold school districts accountable for ensuring safe work environments.

Below are the original series of articles that kicked off our campaign. You will hear the voices of employees who face the daily threat of violence and learn about the root causes of the problem.


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Part 1: Classified speak out

To this day — nearly a year after the incident — Beth can’t describe what happened to her without crying. The veteran SPED assistant was working with a student who was becoming increasingly agitated, when the teen erupted, kicking her in the head with heavy boots. Read More

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Part 2: Reporting key to prevention

Christopher was placed in an impossible situation. The individualized education program (IEP) for the student he was assigned said no one should be within 48 inches of the teen. Despite this, Christopher was ordered to sit next to the student while the class watched a movie. Read More

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Part 3a: OSEA leads campaign

OSEA and AFT will be working hard at the local, state and national levels over the coming months and years to address violence against school staff. Our coverage has garnered letters from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as well as the U.S. Department of Education. Read More

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Part 3b: What chapters can do

OSEA members have been emboldened to speak out, and AFT-Oregon and the Oregon Education Association (OEA) have joined us in seeking solutions at the state and national levels. Implementing solutions will take time, but OSEA members need not wait to act at the local level. Read More

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