Meet Your Current PAT Leaders

PAT is a democratic union, and we have many elected leaders who share the responsibility for guiding our work as an association. We are fortunate to have such a talented and collaborative team of leaders. Learn more here.

PAT Officers

  • President: Elizabeth Thiel, English teacher, Madison High School
  • Vice President: Gwen Sullivan, Library Media Specialist, Chapman Elementary School
  • Treasurer: Diana Collins, School Climate Specialist, Gray Middle School
  • Secretary: Alisha Chavez, Special Education Teacher, Atkinson Elementary School

Executive Board Directors-at-Large

  • Rachel Hanes, 2nd Grade teacher, Glencoe ES, Liaison to Zone 1
  • Vincent Chirimwami, Special Education teacher, Faubion K-8, Liaison to Zone 2
  • Greg Burrill, Substitute Teacher, Liaison to Zone 3
  • Jacque Dixon, Language Arts Teacher, DART, Liaison to Zone 4
  • Adolfo Garza, Kindergarten, Woodlawn ES, Liaison to Zone 5
  • Erica Schneider, 2nd Grade teacher, Llewellyn K-5, Liaison to Zone 7
  • Tina Lamanna, 2nd Grade teacher, Markham K-5, Liaison to Zone 8
  • Mike Bauer, Social Studies teacher, Cleveland HS, Liaison to Zone 9

OEA Board Directors

  • Russ Peterson, Social Studies teacher, Grant High School
  • Gwen Sullivan, Library Media Specialist, Chapman ES

President's Message: Stronger Than We Started

Dear Educators,

These are unprecedented times. You are returning to work this week to begin a school year like none other, under conditions we never would have chosen. With so little clarity around what is to come, educators and stepping back into the year ready to model the the compassion and creativity required of all of us right now.

For almost everyone, teaching in COVID times has been the most challenging moment in our professional lives. Last spring, we witnessed the profound inequities of online learning firsthand. We saw what worked, and we saw many things that didn’t. We know that in order to find real solutions for our students, educator expertise and first-hand experience should be guiding District decision-making.

In all the upheaval, there is so much at stake and so much possibility when we consider the future of our public schools. For years we have been talking about the need for small class sizes; for better air-quality and sanitation in our buildings; for greater focus on social-emotional supports and personal connection, and less on data-production and standardized tests. Right now, the whole world is recognizing how crucial these issues are, and that the value of public education is far greater than what can be delivered through a screen. As we move through this crisis and into the whatever comes next, we have the opportunity to carry these truths forward.

Rather than simply survive this pandemic, we want to ensure our schools and communities come out the other side stronger. To do that, we are going to need hold tight to our values and demand the things that our community has always deserved: for fully-funded schools that give each child the opportunities and attention they need; for Black Lives to Matter in every classroom, every neighborhood, and every policy that governs us; for every member of our community to have access to housing, healthcare, and hope for the future. We must remember that these are reasonable and achievable demands.

These are stressful times, so let’s also remember the power we have as to lift one another up and support each other. Thank you for all that you’re prepared to do this fall to support your students and colleagues, and please make sure to take equally good care of yourself and your loved ones.

In Solidarity,

Elizabeth Thiel
PAT President

Thank You to PAT's Outgoing Leaders

As a member-led union, PAT’s leadership shift every year, as new leaders are elected to step into new roles. Typically, at our End-of-Year Celebration, we thank our PAT leaders who are moving on. We didn’t get to celebrate last June, but we are still deeply grateful to the following leaders who gave their time and energy to make our union stronger, and are moving on to new roles:

Suzanne Cohen—After serving 2 terms as PAT President, Suzanne is now teaching Health at Roosevelt High School. She continues to serve on behalf of PAT as a Trustee on the Health and Welfare Trust.

Al Rabchuk—Our PAT Treasurer and long-time Advocacy Committee chair (as well as former OEA Board director, and most anything else that needed doing) has retired and plans to go fishing.

Madeleine Allen—Madeleine served as a Director-at-Large on the PAT Executive Board, as well as our Legislative Committee Chair, and as a member of the PAT PAC Board. She has accepted the position of Vice-Principal at George Middle School.

Nichole Watson—Nichole served as an OEA Board Director, and as the co-chair of our Racial Equity committee and our Social Justice Committee. She is now the Principal at Prescott Elementary School in the Parkrose School District.

Huck Wilken—Huck completed his term as Director-at-Large on the PAT Executive Board, and is taking leave this year to pursue peer mediation with OEA.

RaeAnn Thompson—RaeAnn completed her term as Director-at-Large on the PAT Executive Board, and continues to teach Health and Jefferson High School.

Chelyn Joseph—Chelyn has been a core member of our Bargaining Team since 2012. She will be on a leave-of-absence from PPS this year, but will continue to consult the Bargaining Team to the extent she is able.

Deepest thanks to these for your commitment and service to PAT, and congratulations on your transitions!

Building Access Prior to the Start of the School Year

Our contract guarantees members access to the worksite at least one week prior to the start of the school year. Unfortunately, many administrators refused to let educators into their classrooms or offices, so PAT is filing an “Association Grievance” on behalf of PAT members who were denied access between August 20th and August 27th.

If you were denied access to your building by your administration (via email or text or phone call)  during this period, we need your help documenting the extra work this created for you!  First, make sure you a copy of the email/text where you were denied access. Second, please keep a record of the time you have to spend after work this week doing things that you would have done last week if you had been able to get into your building. 

We will send out a google form the week of September 3rd where you can share your records. We will use that information to formulate our remedy when we file the association grievance. 

Take Action: No Layoffs at the Library!

Recently, Multnomah County announced plans to lay off a large number of library workers. It is important to note that there is NOT a funding shortfall—the Multnomah County Library is funded by a Library Distract Property tax, so they are maintaining stable funding even as the economy tanks.

Library workers are represented by AFSCME 88, and they are asking for our support. I sent the Multnomah Country Commissioners this letter, and encourage you all to join me in writing to the writing the commissioners and asking them to REVERSE THE LAYOFFS.

Below are some talking points you could include in your letter:

  • These layoffs are not driven by a lack of funds or a budget reduction.
  • There is huge  need for library services in a community that is still grappling with this pandemic.
  • The county should be partnering with school districts, and community organizations, particularly in the BIPOC community,  to find creative ways to carry out the library’s mission even if buildings are closed to the public.
  • Layoffs will exacerbate the negative economic impact on our community and endanger working families.

Below is the contact information for the Multnomah County Commissioners:

  • Deborah Kafoury, County Chair, 503-988-3308 (phone), 503-988-3093 (fax),
  • Sharon Meieran, District 1, 503-988-5220 (phone), 503-988-5440 (fax),
  • Susheela Jayapal, District 2, 503-988-5219 (phone), 503-988-5440 (fax),
  • Jessica Vega Pederson, District 3, 503- 988-5217 (phone), 503-988-5262 (fax),
  • Lori Stegmann, District 4, 503-988-5213 (phone), 503-988-5262 (fax),

Families Marching for Black Lives: Sunday August 30th, 12:30PM

Join us for family-friendly marches for Black lives this Sunday, starting at 12:30 at the Salmon Street Fountain. For more information see Families Marching for Black Lives event page.

Please wear a mask and respect social distancing. 

Many of you have asked about BLM PAT shirts. Our Racial Equity & Social Justice Committees will be at this event with PAT BLM shirts for members and sign-making materials. 

If you would like to volunteer to help with the PAT table at one of these events in the future, please e-mail Jacque Dixon and Alisha Chavez

We would love to see PAT educators show up and support the communities that we are serving. Hope to see you there!

Join a PAT Committee!

PAT is known around the state and country for being a strong and powerful union.  Part of what makes this possible is the strength of our committees within the union.  Our committees give members a way to be involved based on their own interests.  Most of our committees are open to all members. Learn more about our committees and let us know you want to get involved.   Your voice will make a difference. 

(Note that committees with a “**” are not open committees)

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Major Gains from our Substitute Educator ULP

Dear PAT Colleagues:


The Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) that PAT filed against PPS has resulted in a series of major benefits for PAT Substitute Educators and all regularly employed professional educators. This resolution means that substitute educators WILL be able to work this fall, and other educators will be able to REQUEST a substitute educator.


PAT was able to gain the following benefits:


  1. The number of days worked in the 2019-2020 year for substitute educators to be eligible for substitute educator health insurance in 2020-2021 has been reduced from a required 70 days to at least 52 days (any combination of half and full days, adding up to at least 52).
  2. If a substitute educator had earned health insurance benefits in seven of the last ten years, but did not get 52 days of work last year, that educator will be eligible for insurance if they worked 37 days (combo of half and full days).
  3. To benefit all PAT members, PPS will resume the AESOP substitute finder system by September 14th when student instruction begins.
  4. All substitute educators will have required training on district approved distance learning platforms so that each educator will be able to properly substitute during Comprehensive Distance Learning.
  5. There will be an additional day of voluntary paid training for all substitute educators covering PPS curriculum delivery and other key educational issues.                                           NOTE: The required and voluntary training add up to three days of paid time, which counts towards insurance for the 2021-2022 school year.  
  6. All PAT employees and PPS administrators will receive notice that AESOP has been resumed and how to request a substitute.  


We deeply regret that we had to go to such lengths to secure insurance and work for our substitute educators as well as workload relief for the rest of the PAT membership.  Nonetheless, these efforts once again show the efficacy of collective action.  


In Solidarity,

Portland Association of Teachers

Bargaining Brief- August 21, 2020

Dear PAT Colleagues,


Your PAT Team met with PPS again yesterday (Friday, August 21) from 9am - 1pm, and we are happy to report that we have common understandings that will become signed Tentative Agreements (TAs) regarding the amount of educator-directed time in a workday.  The proposed schedules allow for a greater amount of flexibility in the schedule so that PAT educators can care for their families.  Additionally, educators will be allowed to work from their classrooms at school to ensure adequate access to the internet and materials; however, no member will be required to work on-site.  


In terms of the amount of educator-directed time, professional educators will have approximately three hours and 15 minutes a day to plan lessons, assess student work and provide feedback, and support and connect with families and students.  Although the amount of time varies on some days, and varies from elementary to secondary settings, the three hour and 15 minute average is very close to our original proposal of three hours and thirty minutes, and far exceeds the original district proposal.  


Of equal importance is the agreement that when an educator has scheduled “educator-directed time” the educator may flex that schedule so that they can address their family’s needs.  Having this flexibility should go a long way to making teaching under a Comprehensive Distance Learning Model possible for the approximately 42 percent of PAT membership who have children at home.  It also recognizes that many students and families will likewise require flexibility to be successful under distance learning.   


Finally, we agreed to exchange proposals on what should be part of PLCs (regardless of grade level) so that the time spent in those meetings becomes as meaningful as possible.  


The subjects of support for DLI and Special Education educators is still being discussed.  The two teams agreed to exchange counter proposals prior to our next negotiation session on August 27th.  


Next Steps:

  • Both sides plan to coordinate between now and our next negotiation session on August 27 to sign Tentative Agreements (TAs) on the issues that we agreed to yesterday pertaining to the workday and educator directed time.
  • After that, PPS can move forward with building schedules, which must comply with these workday agreements.
  • The bargaining team will continue meeting to come to agreement on the rest of the proposals, including Professional Development, Special Education, and Supports for families and students.


You can watch yesterday’s session online here: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3. Our next bargaining session will be Thursday, August 27, and we will live-stream the session again.  


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PAT 2020 Presentation for New Educators

Thank you to the new educators who joined us today to learn more about our union. Please click HERE for a printable copy of our presentation.


Join PAT!

Contact Us

Know Your Contract

Join One of Our Committees

August 20 Email from PAT- re Building Access Prior to Start of School Year

Dear PAT Educator,

Today is the first day that educators can access their building to prepare for the school year, according to our contract.  We have heard from many educators who wish to enter their classrooms to prepare for the year and access materials.

Article 19.5 of the PAT/PPS Collective Bargaining Agreement states, “Professional educators shall have access to their worksites to unpack and organize their rooms as soon as possible but, at minimum, one (1) week prior to their first work day.”  If your administrator has not already announced a schedule to safely re-enter the building, contact your building administrator to schedule a time to re-enter the building.  

If your administrator refuses to admit you into the building, citing Covid procedures, please contact your Uniserv Representative at PAT.  While we want to remain sensitive to PPS’s attempts to implement Covid safe re-entry plans, we believe PPS has had sufficient time to design these re-entry plans, especially considering the deadline to re-enter the building is today. 

Portland Association of Teachers

Bargaining Brief -- August 17, 2020

Dear PAT Colleagues,

Today, your PAT Bargaining Team met with PPS once again.  We began by reasserting that specific safety and equity language are essential to any agreement on returning to school, to which the District maintained the position that they believe that discussing these matters with PAT is largely a waste of time.  After this unfortunate opening of the session, we remained hopeful that we would find common ground with the District on several important return to work clauses from our proposal, where we envisioned tentatively agreeing to several items. 

However, our efforts were thwarted, when management came to negotiations asserting their right to dictate the work week schedule without genuinely consulting professional educators in general education, SpEd educators, teacher librarians, and other “specials.”  As it stands today, the amount of planning time being proposed by the district is essentially the same amount of time as professional educators had between March and June of last school year.  As virtually all of you know from personal experience, that is not enough time to address student needs or educator workload.  We continue to push District leaders to understand how their scheduling models will negatively impact the planning and preparation necessary for educators to effectively connect with and support students in a Distance Learning environment. 

With regard to Special Education, our educators remain disheartened by the overwhelming backlog of evaluations that they must complete, in addition to the crushing workload they will encounter when we return to school this fall.  The District did make a proposal that was intended to address the workload created by the backlog, but their proposal of three evaluation teams is insufficient to address the backlog in a timely fashion. With only three evaluation teams, it would take until at least December to get through the backlog. Evaluating special needs students is time sensitive and is not something that can wait until winter break. 

If you missed it live, the full session (Part 1Part 2, and Part 3) is viewable online. Our next bargaining session will be Friday, August 21st, 9 am to 1 pm. We will live-stream the session again.  

It is crucial that we get to an agreement about our workday by Friday. Stay tuned for next steps if that does not happen. 


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Substitute Update- August 12, 2020

Dear PAT Substitute Educator Colleagues:

COVID-19 has created a great deal of hardships for you and so many others, and your PAT union continues to be here fighting for you.

In May of 2020, when PPS announced that it was refusing to continue to pay substitute educators, PAT began to examine potential legal responses to the unilateral action that PPS had taken.  Working with an OEA attorney, on July 29th, 2020, PAT filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) complaint against Portland Public Schools with Oregon Employment Relations Board (E.R.B).  

Our ULP against PPS contends that PPS violated the Oregon Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act when:

  • PPS refused to sign any agreement related to substitute working conditions about the COVID-19 shutdown
  • PPS shut off AESOP, denying substitute educators the possibility to work
  • PPS failed to follow the Governor’s order to continue to pay public school employees

In addition to those violations, PPS has notified us that they will not discuss substitute insurance eligibility for next year, while at the same time contending that the average days worked payments don’t count towards substitute insurance eligibility.

In an attempt to settle the issues as quickly as possible, PAT has agreed to a settlement conference with attorneys hired by PPS.  The date for that settlement meeting should be in the next two weeks, and if a settlement can’t be reached, PAT is requesting an expedited hearing before the Oregon E.R.B.  

We are saddened and shocked that PPS would treat substitute educators so poorly.  PAT consistently points out how important you are to the students who attend PPS and to the educators in the regular PAT unit.  Unfortunately, PPS has decided that substitutes are an expendable commodity, even though there is a substitute shortage in Oregon and Washington; they know full well that Beaverton Public Schools and Vancouver, WA schools are looking to hire substitutes.  In fact, PPS would rather pay an outside legal firm to keep substitutes from insurance and income rather than do what is required by Oregon law, the Governor’s order, and the two PAT contracts.  

What does all of this mean for you?

First, we are unable to tell you how many days will be required for substitute insurance eligibility.  Even though PPS at one time offered 51 days for eligibility, and would not let you work to earn insurance, PPS is currently contending that substitute educators must have worked 70 or more days in 2019-2020.  That unconscionable position is part of the settlement discussion, and we hope to be able to offer good news to all of you in the near future.

Secondly, we know how difficult it was for almost all of you to obtain unemployment benefits and that the cut-off of average pay in June was extremely harmful to our PAT substitute members.  PAT and PPS will discuss substitute pay for June when we are in our settlement meeting.  Like the issue of insurance, we are hoping for a positive outcome.

Finally, we are demanding that PPS reopen the AESOP system and that PPS provide substitute educators training on distance learning technology so that you can properly continue serving the students in PPS, and continue your support of your regularly employed PAT colleagues.  

Yours in Solidarity – 

Portland Association of Teachers

Bargaining Brief- August 10, 2020

Dear PAT Colleagues,

Today, your PAT Bargaining team met with the District again to negotiate an agreement on a safe and equitable return to school. If you missed it live, the full session (Part 1 and Part 2) is viewable online. 

We started by discussing the district’s concepts for the educator work day and the student day. The district presented schedules for Elementary, Middle, and High School to discuss. The PAT team is holding tight to our requirement that at least half the educator work day be dedicated to teacher-directed time for planning, contacting families, and supporting students. While the district’s concept for the elementary schedule came much closer to what PAT is asking for, it was not clear that the high school or middle school schedules would provide enough teacher-directed planning and communication time to allow educators to meet the demands of on-line learning.  

We recognize that the district is obliged to follow ODE Guidelines on instruction time for students under distance learning (see ODE Guidelines and sample schedules for grades K-5 and 6-12). We believe that it is possible to do so while preserving educator planning time, and without asking children to be in front of a screen for most of the day.

The district shared the PPS counterproposal to the PAT proposal from last week. The PPS counterproposal stripped all the language that PAT proposed on equity and support to students and families.  In spite of the difficulties Portland families face during the epidemic, PPS does

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Bargaining Brief, August 3rd, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Today, your PAT Bargaining Team met with the District in our 3rd bargaining session to negotiate an agreement on a safe and equitable return to school. Thank you to the 100+ members who tuned in live to watch. If you missed it, the full session is viewable online. 

During today’s bargain, we presented the District with a comprehensive “Re-opening School Proposal,” which included elements of the workday for professional educators in general education, Special Education & related student services, and Dual Language Instruction. In addition, PAT specifically identified and proposed supports for PPS families, including child care needs while schools remain closed so that no student in the district is excluded from the educational experience. We also proposed that the District provide high quality training and live tech support for parents (in families’ home languages) once distance learning begins.   

The District made a presentation that included some partially developed schedules for high school and middle school, as well as an outline of a student day for elementary school.  Unfortunately, the amount of time in the day for planning, assessment of student work, data tracking/grade entry, and family/student contact was significantly less than what PAT has proposed.  Our goal remains the creation of a meaningful educational experience for students and sustainable educator workload and workday.  

Our next bargaining session will be Monday, August 10th from 1:00 to 5:00pm. We will live-stream the session again-- please tune in!

In Solidarity,

Your PAT Bargaining Team-

Steve Lancaster, Chair

Emy Markewitz

Francisca Alvarez

Charity Powell

Andre Hawkins

Chelyn Joseph 

Portland Association of Teachers

Bargaining Brief- July 30, 2020

Dear PAT Educator,

Today, your PAT Bargaining Team met with the District for the second time. The main topic of discussion was the educator work day under Comprehensive Distance Learning. While the District team was not yet ready to share a proposal with us, your PAT team proposed that professional educators will need to have at least half of the day in teacher directed time to perform the tasks necessary to make Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL) possible for students in the 2020-21 school year. You can read more about our proposal here.

We also brought forward concerns about workload of Special Education educators. We made clear that the work required of Special Education educators in the March to June initial closure exceeded the number of hours in a contractual workweek. We stressed that PPS must come up with a reasonable plan for Special Education workload, and informed the District that our survey of Special Education members would guide our proposals on this issue.  

Finally, we stressed that our DLI teachers would need specific and meaningful assistance in producing materials for instruction under Comprehensive Distance Learning. 

We apologize for the technical difficulties that did not allow us to live stream our negotiation session today. You can watch recordings of this bargaining session at these two links: Part 1 and Part 2.

Next Steps


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Bargaining Brief, July 23, 2020

PAT Colleagues:

Today, your PAT Bargaining Team met with the District to begin bargaining our Memorandum of  Agreement on safely returning to work.

At this initial meeting, we discussed bargaining ground rules, and our PAT Bargaining Chair, Steve Lancaster, shared this preamble to make PAT’s priorities clear. We exchanged topics, with both sides agreeing that crucial issues to resolve include workday, leaves of absence, building access, and Special Education. Your PAT team also stressed throughout the meeting the importance of better supporting our students and families, including with nutrition, technology, mentoring, engagement, and communications and support in the family’s preferred language.

Notably, both sides agreed to start our negotiation sessions with a focus on Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL), acknowledging that returning to live instruction is not viable under current conditions.

We made clear that the current level of planning/preparation time is woefully inadequate under normal circumstances, and will need to be dramatically expanded for Distance Learning to be effective. We intend to stress the need for embedded time in every work-day for lesson planning, assessment, student feedback, outreach/communication to families, as well as instruction. 

Finally, we indicated that our colleagues in Special Education, School Psychologist, and SLP positions (to name a few) have a “backlog” of work from last year as well as the upcoming year’s new tasks, and that the return to work must take into account those demands.

You can watch recordings of this bargaining session at these two links: Part 1 and Part 2.

Next Steps

We are scheduled to meet with the District team again on July 30th where we expect to address what an educator’s day looks like in a CDL model.  

Thank you for your support as we advocate for the needs of our learning community during this ongoing health crisis.

Your PAT Bargaining Team-

Steve Lancaster, Chair

Emy Markewitz

Francisca Alvarez

Charity Powell

Andre Hawkins

Chelyn Joseph

 Meet Your Bargaining Team:


Have You NOT Received ANY Payments for Work Share or Unemployment Yet?

Dear Educator,

As of last Thursday, July 16th, the majority of members received all of their Unemployment checks and Work Share checks. However, there are still many members who have not received any Work Share or Unemployment checks due to the following reasons:

  1. They are receiving income from a second source. This includes another pension, income from a second job, income from a trust or estate, or income from a small family business.
  2. They just retired.
  3. They incorrectly filled out their two-page Work Share application. (The two page application filled out by members in May.)

PPS is aware of these three categories of individuals who have not yet received any of their payments. PPS HR is slowly working its way through a list of employees and either emailing educators or calling educators to follow up.

If you have emailed PAT since July 13 about having not received any payments yet (either emailed your UniServ Consultant or the PAT general email address), we have your name and are compiling a list to forward to PPS HR. 

However, if you have not received any payments yet, have not contacted your UniServ Consultant or PAT since July 13, and you have not received a call or email from PPS HR recently, please enter your contact info on this form. We want to have a list to forward to PPS HR, and we also want to make sure that everyone receives the payments they are owed.

In Solidarity,

Portland Association of Teachers

Bargaining Brief: Re-Opening Schools

PAT Colleagues:

Your bargaining team wants to thank everyone who responded to the recent survey about the return to school.  We know how busy you all are, and we appreciate and value your input.  

Here's what we've learned from PAT members when it comes to a safe return to school.  The overwhelming majority of PAT members (72%) want to work under a Comprehensive Distance Learning model.  Not surprisingly, only 4% of the PAT membership wanted to return to a full On-Site-For-Students model of instruction.

Through unofficial discussions with PPS leadership over the last few days, we've let them know how PAT members feel about what would make a safe reopening. At this time, we believe that PPS agrees with the clear demand of PAT members, that prioritizing the safety of students and educators requires that schools reopen with the online-only model.  We expect PPS to make an official communication about that in a week or so, but the Bargaining Team and PAT Leadership want you to know that your survey responses, emails, and calls made this possible. 

On Thursday, the PAT Bargaining Team and PPS representatives will begin formal discussions to craft a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) about working conditions under an Online Distance Learning model and the eventual return to a traditional school experience. The extraordinary nature of this pandemic means that our contract does not address many of the issues educators face in a Distance-Learning scenario. The MOA will only cover a relatively brief period of time and address a specific set of conditions. 

Our bargaining team will be asking for agreements in 2 areas, to address educator-specific needs and workload under distance learning, as well as the needs of our students and families. Here are some of the things we are asking for:

1.  Community and Student Needs

  • Reliable access to online learning for every student who needs it (wi-fi and a device), plus technology support for families in their home language.
  • Dedicated staff teams to consistently support  students who are not engaging in online learning.
  • Physical materials and supplies to support students with limited access to technology, made available at school-based food distribution sites, and/or delivered directly to students’ homes.
  • Plans that mitigate risks for immigrant students and families who may be undocumented.
  • Uniform processes at each school site to engage students and families directly about what they need, as well as communication in all school community languages.
  • Support for educators to implement affinity groups that build on student strengths ( eg. MEChA, Black Student Unions, and LGBTQ2SIA+ groups). 
  • Professional Development for all educators around Racial Equity, Restorative Practices, and Anti-Racist teaching
  • Low-cost or no-cost child care for all PPS employees who need the support.
  • Utilization of substitute teachers for daily academic support

2. Workload for Successful Comprehensive Distance Learning or Hybrid models

  • Educators should not be REQUIRED to work in classrooms/offices, but have FULL ACCESS to classrooms for conducting online instruction/student support.  
  • Professional Development on opportunities on best practices for distance instruction; addressing students in crisis-situations; supporting students with special education needs in a virtual setting; providing mental health support remotely.
  • Access to trained substitute educators for excess caseload circumstances. 
  • “PD” for families, including to help them better assist their students in the educational processes.
  • Increased embedded daily planning time to produce Distance Learning lessons
  • Time embedded daily for student connections/family communication
  • Time embedded daily for the assessing student work and providing feedback.
  • Release from workload for special education providers completing backlogged evaluations (e.g. SIT, testing coordination, mentoring, committees).

Next Steps:

We will use Zoom to hold the MOA discussion on Thursday, and we will record the meeting so that PAT members can listen to what happened in the meeting.  In the future meetings, we will look into a live stream version if we can arrange a method that is not disruptive to the process. 

Once we have the MOA completed, the PAT will begin bargaining the successor Collective Bargaining Agreement.  That document will contain changes that will be in place for the length of the agreement, and therefore will address many of the demands not addressed in the MOA agreement. 

In the next few days and weeks we will keep you up to date on progress as we negotiate our return-to-work MOA. Just as you did with the bargaining survey, we count on your solidarity to allow us accomplish the bargaining goals that will lift students and educators. 

Now more than ever before our collective voice is essential as we advocate for our colleagues, students and communities.

In solidarity,

Steve Lancaster, PAT Bargaining Chair

Elizabeth Thiel, PAT President

Meet PAT's New President Elizabeth Thiel


For those of you who don't yet know me, I'm Elizabeth Thiel, your newly elected PAT President. I'm a High School English Teacher, most recently, at Madison High School. I've been working PPS for 17 years, and for the past four years I've been serving as PAT Vice President. I'm excited to be working with all our newly elected officers, board members, and committee chairs to guide our union through these unprecedented times.

Typically July is the month that many educators take a moment to breathe and regroup, before we recommit ourselves to the work of nurturing the students who will fill our classrooms in the fall. This year, our summer is filled with uncertainty and the urgent work of re-imagining our schools and classrooms.
Fall Re-Opening

As educators, of course there is nothing we want more than to be face to-face with our students, where we can really connect and help them learn and grow. Distance learning has been an enormous stress on educators, students, and families, and it is certainly not the model we would choose, if being live in classrooms were not a threat to public health.
Like every school district in Oregon and across the country, PPS is scrambling to make plans for the fall, while new information and guidance keep rolling in. In June, ODE released two iterations of its guidelines for reopening schools. Since then, infection rates in Oregon have continued to rise, including among children under 10. Even as plans are being made, the conditions in our city and state continue to change.

There are several things we know for sure. First, There is neither a vaccine nor a treatment for COVID-19. Second, while students may be at relatively low risk, the adults they depend on are vulnerable to this debilitating and sometimes lethal disease. Whatever plan PPS makes, it must prioritize the safety of our educators, students, and families while centering equity and balancing our students social and emotional needs with their academic ones."

If educators, students, and families cannot be reasonably assured that any plans for re-opening schools will prevent the spread of COVID-19, reopening is the wrong choice. Despite the pressure and the desire to get back to normal, we cannot sacrifice the safety of educators, students, and families by accepting re-opening plans that leave us all at risk.

When things are moving this fast and unpredictably, teacher voices are essential for any re-opening plan to be successful.
Our PAT Bargaining Team is working throughout the summer to reach an MOU around our working conditions in the fall. Your input on the recent bargaining survey is crucial in identifying our collective priorities, and defining for the District what educators consider safe working conditions. You will hear more from our Bargaining Team shortly about the results from our survey, and the implications in negotiating our MOU.

At the same time, there are about 25 teachers serving as PAT representatives on the District’s 4 Re-Entry Planning committees, which began meeting last week. Along with these classroom educators, I am also attending as many of the planning meetings as I can, to make sure an on-the-ground perspective is central to every discussion and decision.
We are working with the District to offer a townhall for PAT educators to give feedback on the District’s draft plan for re-opening, once it is ready to share. Expect to hear more about that by mid-July.

In the meantime, I know you have so much insight to offer about how to make schools work in a distance-learning or hybrid model. You can always share your ideas with me via e-mail, but I have created this form to collect your ideas and concerns so I can more easily consolidate them and share with PPS and with our bargaining. Please take a minute to share anything you would like.
Classroom educators know better than anyone what worked and what didn't this Spring as we experimented with distance learning in PPS.. For any plan to be successful, educator voices must be central to decision making.

Standing up for Black LIves and Reimagining Community Safety
Like millions of people around the country, PAT members have been outraged over the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police. We’ve also been inspired by the unprecedented movement to end the nationwide pattern of police violence against Black people.

In Portland, people have been demonstrating for 40 days straight to demand police reform and a broader reevaluation of public safety. This movement has had real results. In June the Portland City Council voted to end the School Resource Officer program and other special forces, and to reallocate $15 million toward support services. At the state level, the Oregon Legislature passed six criminal justice reform bills championed by the People of Color Caucus.

In both the city and the state, leaders acknowledge that these changes are just a start in addressing the pattern of anti-Black police violence, and the disproportionate use of public funds for police and prisons, rather than social services and economic justice.
This week past, despite a temporary ban from the Federal courts, the police continue to use tear gas to break up peaceful demonstrations, causing harm to demonstrators, on-lookers, and even unsuspecting community members in their homes and cars.
Across the country, there is unprecedented support for reimagining what makes our communities safe and what is the proper role for police. I urge everyone to educate themselves on the many proposals for reform, restructuring, and re-allocation of funds, especially if you are newer to the conversation. Here are a few upcoming opportunities:

Portland Committee on Community-Engaged Policing Townhall, Thursday, July 9, 2020, 5:00 – 7:00pm. Jobs with Justice forum: "Should Police Be Abolished - Labor Weighs In" Tuesday July 14, 2020, 6:30 – 8:00pm.

Other Things to Know:
The Executive Board will be working this summer to create SocialDistancing Standing Rules for the RA, so there is a democratic process for elected reps to conduct PAT business via virtual meetings. It looks like it will be some time before we are able to meet live as a group of 100 + in the PAT basement. Our Bargaining Team will be communicating with you soon about the bargaining survey results and our priorities in negotiating our working conditions in the fall. Our staff are working throughout the summer, save for staggered breaks. If you don’t know which consultant to contact, you can email, include what school you work at, and our Associate Staff will put you in touch with the right UniServ Consultant.

Our Fall Membership Meeting will be held the last Monday before you report to school, Monday, August 24th. More information will be sent to Reps later this summer

Bargaining in the Time of COVID-19

A Message from Steve Lancaster, PAT Bargaining Team Chair

Hello Colleagues!

I want to share with you where we are right now with bargaining, and offer a few thoughts and analysis from our “Return to School” survey. As you know, our plans for bargaining significant improvements to our contract have been derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are now facing budget shortfalls rather than the infusion of new monies that we had all been anticipating. Concurrently, we are navigating truly unprecedented working conditions as we prepare to return to work in August. As a result, PAT will be moving forward on two fronts simultaneously.

Bargaining Our Successor Agreement
We will be bargaining a successor agreement to our current contract with a limited number of issues on the table including workplace safety, equity issues including restorative practices, compensation, and benefits. All of the hard work that has been done on contract improvements will not be lost. Some of the proposals that were developed will fall within the scope of the limited bargain. We will bring the remainder of the improvements to the table in the next bargaining cycle when (hopefully) the effects of the pandemic are no longer driving our decisions.

Negotiating an MOA for the Fall
We will be aggressively negotiating a Memorandum of Agreement (which has the force of our contract but does not become a permanent part of our contract language) regarding the terms of our return to work in
August. There are a truly mind-boggling number of issues to work through to determine what our teaching and learning conditions will be for this next school year. With only seven weeks before we are expected to report for work, and the district’s August 15th deadline to publish a plan, we have an incredibly short window of time to get contractual protections in place. As we negotiate through the summer (starting the week of July 20th), we may call upon you to provide your insights if you are willing to do so during your summer break.

As for our Return to Work Survey, first some data points:

43% of members indicated that they either have or live with someone who is high risk
32% of members said that they would be unlikely to return if they could not be certain of a sanitary work space while 80% expressed very low confidence that proper sanitation could be provided by the District
60% of members believe that their work space lacks adequate ventilation
15% (1 in 6) members indicated that they were unlikely to return to work if it involved any level of face-to-face instruction

Second, as far as we know, the District does not yet have answers to key liability questions such as: What happens if a teacher becomes ill? Is this a Worker’s Compensation issue or personal health insurance? What happens if a child becomes ill and is hospitalized or dies – can the family sue the school district? If it could be shown that even one required element of the ODE’s reopening plan had not been implemented with fidelity, wouldn’t the District be considered legally negligent? If an administrator knew (or should have known) of an area of safety non-compliance but failed to act to correct it, could they be held criminally or civilly liable? Given the size of our district and the decrepitude of many of our physical sites, it seems that there is a huge and unknown financial liability to reopening with face to face instruction.

Third, given that COVID-19 is far from under control, there is a statistical certainty that cases will break out in schools and be transmitted to educators, educator families, and student families. The opening of schools almost guarantees the acceleration of community spread of COVID at a time when we are still far from effective treatments or a vaccine and the health system is very vulnerable to becoming quickly overwhelmed. This ensures that, statistically speaking, the opening of schools will result in sickness and death that would otherwise not occur. While it might be legal, and there may be public pressure to open schools, to engage in a policy that you can be reasonably confident will cause suffering and death is immoral.

Fourth, even if a successful hybrid model could be designed that somehow negated all of the issues above, as soon as you have an outbreak in a building, students and teachers will be placed into quarantine and have no other option than a fully on-line model. Eventually, you will have 88 schools that are all in a chaotic cycle of opening and closing which would be much more disruptive to teachers, students and families than a fully on-line model that would remain consistent through the school year.

These points alone lead to the conclusion that large scale in-person teaching is not feasible. When you add to this the numerous impracticalities, logistical impossibilities, and technical barriers to complying with just the required elements of the ODE reopening plan, and the fact that there will not be sufficient resources available even if none of those problems existed, I see no viable path to a safe and functional hybrid model that could serve most students.

We know that on-line teaching will be featured prominently even in a hybrid model. We should be focusing our time and resources on providing the best possible virtual learning experience that we can. This will take an enormous amount of planning to accomplish and we have very little time. If we spend what little time is available to us in a vain attempt to offer some minimal face-to-face instruction, then we are likely to get to the start of the school year without having an adequate virtual school plan in place. Educators and students will find themselves in a situation that is much like what we experienced in March and April. This would be a disaster! We are pushing for PPS to first develop a workable on-line instruction plan. Once such plans are well developed, and with safety measures that would prevent the spread of disease, then we will diligently explore what it might look like to get students and educators safely back into buildings.

Thanks so much for your steadfast partnership in this work!

Steve Lancaster

PAT Bargaining Chair

Portland Association of Teachers

Bargaining Update, July 2020

Hello Colleagues! 

I want to share with you where we are right now with bargaining, and offer a few thoughts and analysis from our “Return to School” survey. As you know, our plans for bargaining significant improvements to our contract have been derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are now facing budget shortfalls rather than the infusion of new monies that we had all been anticipating. Concurrently, we are navigating truly unprecedented working conditions as we prepare to return to work in August. As a result, PAT will be moving forward on two fronts simultaneously. 

Bargaining Our Successor Agreement

We will be bargaining a successor agreement to our current contract with a limited number of issues on the table including workplace safety, equity issues including restorative practices, compensation, and benefits. All of the hard work that has been done on contract improvements will not be lost. Some of the proposals that were developed will fall within the scope of the limited bargain. We will bring the remainder of the improvements to the table in the next bargaining cycle when (hopefully) the effects of the pandemic are no longer driving our decisions.

Negotiating an MOA for the Fall

We will be aggressively negotiating a Memorandum of Agreement (which has the force of our contract but does not become a permanent part of our contract language) regarding the terms of our return to work in August. There are a truly mind-boggling number of issues to work through to determine what our teaching and learning conditions will be for this next school year. With only seven weeks before we are expected to report for work, and the district’s August 15th deadline to publish a plan, we have an incredibly short window of time to get contractual protections in place. As we negotiate through the summer (starting the week of July 20th), we may call upon you to provide your insights if you are willing to do so during your summer break.

As for our Return to Work Survey, first some data points:


Continue reading

Substitute Update July 9, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

The PAT has been fielding many e-mails from our substitutes so we wanted to reach out to send an update to ensure everyone is getting their questions answered.  Guest educators have been emailing us to find out about PPS’s plans for the academic year 2020-2021 and continued questions about Oregon Unemployment.  

Plans for Next Year

The Oregon Department of Education Guidance for School Year 2020-2021 states that by August 15 all districts across the state must finalize their re-entry plans. Re-entry could range from fully reopened schools, distance learning or a hybrid model. For the past month, the PAT has been in discussions with PPS administration to ensure that whatever model PPS selects, that substitute educators will continue to be employed, either for temporary contracts or short-term, one day assignments as in past years. PAT is also advocating that PPS provide training and professional development so that substitute educators can be successful in an online learning environment. 

Both the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics have emphasized that teachers expressing Covid symptoms should be excluded from school buildings until the symptoms subside, which may result in a higher demand for substitute educators. 

Questions about Unemployment

Our guest educators have also been emailing us their concerns about the continued delays with Oregon Unemployment application processing times.  You can use the Online Claim System to check whether your claim has been processed and the status of each week’s payment. Click on the blue box labeled “Status of Your Claim and Weekly Reports.” Keep in mind that substitutes may be eligible for unemployment benefits through the new federal program that was recently established for gig workers and other temporary workers. The Oregon AFL-CIO provides a weekly Zoom workshop that you can attend to learn more about PUA eligibility requirements and application process. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program is plagued with delays so please be patient when applying for the PUA program.  

Health Insurance for Substitutes

Although PPS has expressed strong interest in lowering the number of days worked in the district required to be eligible for health insurance, unfortunately we have still not reached an agreement on this issue. PPS had all but agreed to reducing this eligibility requirement, but made its offer to do so contingent on the PAT agreeing to the unilateral decision to stop paying substitutes any salary in June 2020. This kind of regressive bargaining, we believe, constitutes an Unfair Labor Practice. PAT has filed a complaint and working with legal counsel to attain retroactive payment for all substitutes through the end of the 2019-20 school and a reduction in days to be eligible for health insurance for 2020-21, similar to what they had been offering to do prior to this regressive bargaining. We remain hopeful that we will win this case and will keep you updated as soon as we have additional information.

PAT-paid subscription to Rethinking Schools

For the last several years, PAT has had a bulk subscription to Rethinking Schools Magazine. Rethinking Schools is a nonprofit publisher and advocacy organization dedicated to sustaining and strengthening public education through social justice teaching and education activism. As a benefit to PAT members, we would like to offer all members an opportunity to access Rethinking Schools Magazine through a PAT-paid online subscription. 

If you would like to have an online subscription to Rethinking Schools Magazine, please sign up here by July 20. PAT will pay the cost for a one-year online subscription, and will forward your email address to Rethinking Schools. You will be able to access the current issues as well as archives, through your on-line subscription. Not a PAT member?  Sign up here!

Portland Association of Teachers