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Bargaining Update | Portland Association of Teachers

Bargaining Update

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How long have Portland teachers worked without a contract?

On Wednesday, January 28th, bargaining continued for over eight hours. The entire time was spent by your team’s ongoing effort to meet the District’s interests regarding Article 20 Workday/Work Year/School Calendar. The discussions in the last three bargaining sessions over this issue have lasted nearly thirty hours!! Superintendent Carole Smith was once again a no-show. Now, we are dealing with another District team member, Hank Harris. Harris, the new HR Director from Canby, is another new voice on the District’s team.

Article 20: Workday/Work Year/School Calendar
● The District’s proposal on Article 20 Workday/Work Year/School Calendar would
allow the District to assign duties during one-half of the fifteen minutes before
and after the school day. Their original proposal would have allowed them to
assign duties during the entire time.

● Their proposal would also allow the District to have a teacher’s workday end at
4:30 rather than no later than 4:00 (i.e. 9:00—4:30 as opposed to 8:30—4:00).
Apparently, their intent is to impact teachers at the Middle Schools. We
informed them that such a proposal would have members at work until 6:30 p.m. on staff meeting and professional development days.

● Also, members on that schedule would be unable to access most district professional development activities and professional meetings with colleagues at other sites. Amazingly, your team only recently heard of this interest. We believe that their real intent is to use the time after school to have teachers attend meetings, such as IEPs, without pay. We believe such actions would violate other sections of our contract.

● The District also wants to delete the language that would not allow increases in the student day. Although our current language allows the District to increase the student day in order to be in compliance with the State’s standard on student contact time, the District insists on deleting this language.

● We are unable to get the District to clearly communicate their intent. Superintendent Smith and others on
the Board’s team said it is only to “maximize individual student opportunities for instruction.” But, when the PAT team offered language that would allow the District to provide such additional opportunities outside of the teacher workday if a teacher volunteered to provide such assistance with pay, the District refused to agree. It seems as though the District wants to increase student contact time. This appears to be a back door attempt to have high school teachers teach an additional period during their workday and to increase a teacher’s student contact time. This action would violate the workload provision of our contract. We will not agree to change contract language without knowing the District’s intent.

We find their demands for rollbacks and increased workload for our members unacceptable, especially when we have agreed to a joint committee to review all issues relating to Article 20: Workday/Work Year/School Calendar.

● Our contract calls for 177 student instructional days. This is two more days of student instruction than the Beaverton School District.

● Beaverton teachers’ workday is eight hours a day. Kindergarten teachers receive 700 minutes a week in prep time. Elementary teachers receive 675 minutes per week in prep time.

● Beaverton Resource Room teachers receive the above, but additionally they receive another 200 minutes per week for case management responsibilities.

● Portland elementary teachers and elementary special education teachers receive 180 minutes of prep time a week.

● In Beaverton, employees are not required to attend more than two hours a month of faculty meetings.

● In Portland, we are required to attend two hours of faculty meetings per week.
We have used Beaverton as a comparison because the District uses Beaverton as a comparison, citing their eight-hour workday. We have told the District that we are happy to accept Beaverton’s eight hour workday if we can also have their guaranteed prep time. Of course, PPS won’t agree.

Article 11: Reduction in Staff

● In one of the most ridiculous proposals so far, the District seeks to define "competence" as recent teaching experience in an area of endorsement or grade level. You must have taught in that endorsement or grade level for at least three of the most recent ten years.

For example, if a teacher with six years of experience has a dual endorsement in LA and Social Studies and the teacher taught Social Studies for the first two years and LA for the last four years, the teacher would no longer be “competent” to teach Social Studies. So, this teacher would be laid off before a first year Social Studies teacher even though they are licensed and endorsed to teach Social Studies. We have provided a copy of the District's proposal to each bargaining organizer.

Article 14: Insurance Protection

● The District is still insisting on deleting the language stating that if we are required to join OEBB, the statewide insurance plan, that any savings to the District would be added to teacher salary increases.

● Your PAT team offered in a “package” the concept of taking the savings and with Trust reserves, putting it into a pool to offset future increases. Unfortunately, the District accepts what they like in our “package”, such as this suggestion. But, they still want no base salary increases for two years. That is unacceptable.
It is important to note that the increase in the District’s contribution to PAT health benefits is 84¢ a member per month!! This incredibly low increase is in great part due to the changes in our health benefits made in the 2004-06 contract. We reduced our level of benefits by $100 per member per month and employees began to contribute 7% of the premiums.

Salary

● In spite of the fact that PAT members worked ten days without pay a few years ago in order to keep students in school for a full year and have taken salary freezes in the past, the District continues to proposethe following:
● 2008-2009—2% on base salary / Step increase

● 2009-2010—0% on base salary / Step increase

● 2010-2011—0% on base salary. Step increase and 1% for those employees who did not receive a step.

● They also have proposed up to two days of unpaid furlough days depending on their March 1, 2010 State School Fund biennial allocation. Over 50% of our members are on the top step of each column.

● In addition, they propose to allow any new employee to use plus hours earned after a Bachelor’s degree, but prior to licensure for salary placement. Current employees hired before 2009-2010 WOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO USE SUCH CREDIT FOR SALARY PURPOSES.

● They did agree to allow $1500 per year for a doctorate in a field related to their assignment. This represents a $440 a year increase.

● They also agreed to a $1500 annual stipend for National Board Certification. But, they did not agree to such stipends for Speech Pathologists or School Psychologists who receive their National Board Certification.

● Nearly all other union employees received a 3% base salary increase for 2008-09. The District budgeted a 3% increase for PAT members.

● PAT’s proposals were all in a “package”. The December 10th At The Table explained our “what if” package proposal that would have settled all issues. Our settlement proposal was more than reasonable and within the District’s budget.

● PAT offered to take the budgeted 3% and spread it over two years instead of one year.

● PAT also proposed a 2% base salary increase for 2010-2011.

Article 16: Professional Improvement

● The District is proposing to delete the language that allows for advances when members attend professional improvement trainings. Even though the fund is a finite amount, the District proposes to have our members pay for the transportation, lodging and all other expenses for the training up front. Reimbursement would be within fifteen business days from submission of documentation after the completion of the training or conference. Our members would have to carry the amount on their credit cards until that time. This represents further contract rollbacks.

Article 18: Leaves

● The District proposes to reduce pay, benefits and job rights currently available to a unit member if the member is injured on the job.
● The District is proposing to add language requiring that anyone requesting an unpaid leave must request it prior to April 1st of each year “except in extenuating circumstances”. We’re supposed to believe that HR will be fair and equitable in determining how an “extenuating circumstance” is defined.

Article 23: Duration

● The District initially proposed a two-year agreement. Now, they propose a three-year agreement, except that they may “cancel” the third year of the Contract with written notice by May 31, 2010. If they invoked this proposal, we would need to begin bargaining in just four months!
The next bargaining session is scheduled for Wednesday, February 3rd beginning at 4:00 p.m. at the BESC.

The District’s proposal represents significant contract rollbacks. Your team cannot recommend the District’s proposal.

The next At The Table will outline the PAT’s positions as well as next steps in the bargaining process.