My Experience Serving On the Governor's Council for Educator Advancement

Educators in the state of Oregon must know that I take great pride in the work I do at the district, state, and local levels, especially within my primary role as teacher. It must be noted that my passion in providing students and colleagues the best, and nothing but the best, remains at the forefront of my agenda. 

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Bargaining Brief - September 11, 2017

Your bargaining team finally met with our counterparts from the District for face-to-face mediation today.

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Still Fighting for the Schools Portland Students Deserve

Welcome back! This is the second year in a row we’re starting the year without a contract and I know it’s really tough. I hope you were proudly wearing your “2nd Year, No Contract” button when the students arrived last week. This is just one of the many activities we’ve got planned to show the District we’re serious about settling a fair contract.

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Personnel Investigations and Paid Administrative Leave

PPS officials are unfortunately making headlines again, this time for the District’s dysfunctional approach to personnel complaints, investigations, and paid administrative leave. PAT has been pushing the District to fix these problems for years.

Given the frequent media mischaracterizations of the role of our union, its important to stress that only PPS can fire its employees, or initiate and pursue investigations. We believe that it’s in everyone’s interest for the District to conduct timely, thorough, and objective investigations of personnel complaints—something we’ve spelled out repeatedly in bargaining. For example, in our last round of negotiations we secured new language requiring the District to conduct prompt investigations, and to provide a reason for putting any educator on administrative leave for more than 10 days. Unfortunately, PPS has repeatedly ignored these requirements, and just like the lead crisis two years ago, administrators continue sweeping problems under the rug.

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Give Your Schedule a Check-Up

The PAT/PPS contract has language to insure a fair work schedule that allows you to support your students.  Please review the contract and your schedule, and use the Schedule Check worksheet on the PAT website that is appropriate for your assignment (grade level/building and full-time or part-time).

It is important that you do this now.  If changes or corrections need to be made, they must be done now, at the beginning of the year.  If you have concerns about your schedule, talk to your PAT Building Representative.

Salary Placement Problems

The past two years we’ve seen a marked increase in the number of members having problems with their placement on the salary schedule.  If you believe you should be on a different step or column on the salary schedule, please let us know by completing this form

PAT will be able to analyze your situation and identify any trends or common causes for these salary placement problems.  Based on our findings, we may file a class-action grievance to address any violations.  

Whats Up With My Paycheck?

Because our contract is still not settled, we are starting our second year without any increase to the salary schedule. I know just how difficult this is. Both the District and PAT have proposals that include retroactive increases.

 Because our contract is “status quo”, the salary schedule remains the same as last year. However, you do get step increases and credit advancement if you're eligible. Also, due to staffing cuts, we are not working the extra two days we agreed to last year. This means we aren't being paid for those extra two days and your paychecks will reflect this shorter school year on the September 29th paycheck. 

Labor History for Labor Activists

These are hard times for most working people. Although significant organizing efforts are underway within the labor movement, the way forward remains challenging. Portland Rising, a committee of Portland Jobs with Justice, is offering a five-week class starting in October, called Labor History for Labor Activists.  The aim of the class is to help local activists learn from US labor history to become more effective organizers in their own workplaces, unions, and communities.

The class will be held in the Portland Jobs with Justice basement training room (1500 NE Irving Street), for five successive Tuesdays, from 7 to 8:30 pm, starting October 10, 2017.  For more information send an email to JwJlaborclass@gmail.com, or register here .

Licensure Updates Workshop - September 23rd

Find out the latest in licensure redesign in Oregon and get valuable information about all aspects of licensure for K-12 educators. You will walk away with answers to your specific licensure questions and materials that are comprehensive and user-friendly.  The workshop is Saturday September 23rd, from 9:30-11:30 AM, at the PAT office. Free for OEA members.  Register online here.

Help Strengthen PAT's Membership!

Are you a people person? Do you like to organize and educate members on why it is important to be a part of the union?  Join the membership committee! Our primary tasks are to recruit and involve new members and organize events such as the Back to School BBQ, retirement recognition, and National Teacher Appreciation.  Please contact Membership Chair Kali Capps at kalilandis@gmail.com to get involved.

National Board Certification Workshop - October 5th

The PAT contract has a $1,500 annual stipend for National Board certified teachers.  We expect this to be increased to $2,500 when our next contract is finalized.  Come learn how you can become national board certified.  Find out about opportunities at the state level to get reimbursed for certification fees and how to waive Oregon licensure fees.  Find out how OEA supports you with a four-day Jump Start Seminar so you start the process on the right foot. The workshop will be held Thursday October 5th, 5:00-6:00 PM at the PAT office. 


Free for OEA members. Register online at:  http://www.oregoned.org/stay-informed/nbct-workshops

Bargaining Brief - August 24, 2017

Tuesday evening at 9:14 PM, PPS emailed a proposal to your PAT bargaining team.  After a review of the document on Wednesday, we realized that there were:

  • Brand-new proposals, despite being long-past the deadline for new issues;
  • Proposals that altered or removed already agreed upon items;
  • Proposals which were so poorly written that we could not determine their meaning;

Your team found it offensive that we received this incomplete, inaccurate, and sloppy document after hundreds of hours in negotiations. Both sides were slated to meet for mediation today, but we worked separately the entire day. The state mediator presented our feelings and our written summary of some of the problems in their document to the PPS team. After that, PPS spent the rest of the day working on correcting/altering their careless work.

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New Superintendent for PPS

On behalf of the approximately 4,000 educators in the Portland Association of Teachers, I want to express how pleased I am that PPS has filled the vacant Superintendent position with the hiring of Guadalupe Guerrero.  The characteristics we were looking for in a candidate included an individual with experience as an educator, someone who understands the problems with current education reform agendas, and leader with a history of positive interaction with unions.  It is our hope that our new Superintendent possesses these qualities.

We are disappointed that the school board did not give Portland educators or their representatives in the PAT a meaningful role in this decision-making process. While PAT did agree to participate as part of a “stakeholder group” to interview four finalist candidates, our feedback was not communicated directly to the school board, nor were we given an opportunity to influence the board’s decision.

We are dedicated to building a positive relationship with the new Superintendent, and working with him and the new school board to settle a fair contract, strengthen all our schools, and build a more equitable school system that gives every student the opportunities and supports they need regardless of their zip code. We also hope the new superintendent will rebuild an accountable and efficient leadership structure in the district, and commit to transparent decision-making and a collaborative relationship with educators, students, and families.

Moving forward, we hope district leaders recognize that in order to enact positive change in our district, it is essential that the District seeks out and values the voice of educators. 

Suzanne Cohen, President

Bargaining Brief 7-17-17

Your PAT bargaining team met with the district’s bargaining team today for our first mediation session. Although we were in session for more than twelve hours, we were unable to make any tangible progress.

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bargaining brief 7/14/17

District’s Bargaining Team Pushing for a Crisis!

(1) The District’s team ended interest-based bargaining (IBB).

(2) The District’s team asked for mediation. This is one of three decision points in state law to move towards the ability to unilaterally implement the District’s bargaining proposal and for PAT to declare a strike.

(3) The District is repeating a bargaining strategy used in 2013 to refuse to bargain over permissive subjects of bargaining. This time the District’s strategists are refusing to bargain over workload, class sizes, caseloads, number of preparations (distinct courses), and staff meetings. PAT is now forced to create complex alternate bargaining proposals to preserve its interests. This is a time-consuming strategy that delays the bargaining process. To make matters worse, the Districts strategists are rolling out their objections a few at a time. This delays the necessary legal review before creating alternative packages.

(4) District team members have stated that we need to be in a crisis to reach a settlement.

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Bargaining Brief 7/6/2017

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District Returns to Legal Maneuvers to Force PAT to Eliminate Workload Protections

If you were here in 2013 before PAT almost went on strike, you will be disappointed to learn that District negotiators are repeating the same aggressive legal strategy to force PAT to abandon protections in our contract.  Once again District negotiators are refusing to bargain over certain “permissive” subjects of bargaining*.  This time around, PPS Chief Negotiator Laird Cusack is demanding that our workload language must be removed from the contract because it is “permissive” and the District chooses not to bargain over this topic.  PAT disagrees with this legal analysis and may be forced to file another unfair labor practice charge for bad faith bargaining.



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Have a Good Summer

As the school year winds down, I want to take a chance to thank you for the work you do for our students, each and every day. Despite the challenges we faced this year, our commitment to teaching ALL children, no matter where they come from, remains strong and we have persevered.

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Read the Latest Bargaining Brief

The District pulled out of Interest-Based Bargaining last week, stating "until we get to a crisis point where one side can strike and one side can implement, we won’t get to a deal." The District is taking steps required to impose its contract proposal on us, and we have mediation with the District scheduled for July 10th. Find out all the details from our negotiators in the latest Bargaining Brief.

Building and Classroom Moves

If you are required to move to a new building as the result of school reconfigurations, construction, or other District-initiated changes, check our new contract Article 16 regarding your right to payment for time spent packing and unpacking your personal belongings.  We now also have specific contract language to cover “extraordinary moves” – those situations in which an educator may be asked to sort and pack materials and equipment beyond the typical classroom situation, such as the theater, library, or science labs.  The contract language provides a specific procedure for agreement between the educator and administrator on the amount of extra time to be paid. 

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Time to Get Organized!

Before we leave for summer, we need to make sure we have a strong 1:10 structure in place in every building. Building Organizers, please remember to get the following items to PAT. You can pony to PAT, or scan and email it to pat_vp@oregoned.org.

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Lead Workshops at the Northwest Teachers for Social Justice Conference

In these scary times, educators of conscience need each other more than ever. Please consider proposing a workshop for this year's Northwest Teaching for Social Justice Conference.

The NWTSJ Conference is an annual festival of idea-sharing, inspiration, and resources, that rotates yearly between Portland and Seattle.

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