Your bargaining team finally met with our counterparts from the District for face-to-face mediation today.
The PPS team now includes the following members:
- Antonio Lopez, Acting Interim Superintendent
- Ryan Dutcher, Interim Chief Financial Officer
- Laird Cusack, Chief Negotiator, Labor Relations
- Stephanie Harper, Labor Relations
- Curtis Wilson, Principal, Benson High School
- Kathleen Ellwood, Planning Principal
- Jen Thomas, Human Resources
- Rita Moore, Portland Public School Board
- Amy Kohnstamm, Portland Public School Board
We welcome the addition of building administrators with firsthand experience of the many problems we’ve identified over the last two years of negotiations. We were also encouraged by the active role both school board members played today, although we were disappointed to hear that Board Chair Julia Brim-Edwards is not planning on continuing as a PPS team member. Interim Superintendent Yousef Awwad was also absent from today’s session.
As we’ve repeatedly discussed with the District, one of the biggest problems we’ve had during this bargain is the changing composition of their team. Your team spent several hours briefing the new participants from the District on the history of bargaining over the last two years and how we ended up in our current deadlock, which is why it was frustrating that the District rejected our proposal to record today’s mediation.
We also reviewed our package of proposals with the PPS team, including key issues like salaries, special education, safety, professional development, workload, and allocation of instructional minutes. After questions and discussion, the District reviewed its proposals, which were unchanged from August 24th.
We alerted the District that introducing brand-new proposals in mediation, or altering/removing already agreed-upon items constitutes an unfair labor practice and we will need to pursue a remedy if they are unwilling to withdraw these regressive bargaining proposals. We also stressed the need to get decision-makers in the room, and for the District’s team to come to bargaining prepared. We continue to believe that this round of negotiations provides us with an important opportunity to settle our backlog of grievances and break the pattern of sweeping problems under the rug.
We have two days of working meetings scheduled for next week, and another full day of mediation on September 21st. We will be providing more details on the status of bargaining and our strategy going forward with our building organizers this weekend at our retreat in Lincoln City.