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:


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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

Special Education in the Time of COVID— Discussion with ODE

Dear Colleagues,

OEA is hosting a virtual meeting to discuss COVID-19 issues specifically concerning Special Ed Educators. Below is the invitation from OEA President John Larson, with links on how to register to participate. We hope to see you there.

Registration is REQUIRED to participate in this meeting.

Good morning,

There will be a Zoom meeting on Wednesday, July 15, from 3:30-5pm to discuss Special Education issues during a time of COVID with Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Colt Gill and Oregon Department of Education Staff.  The emphasis will be on IEP development/modifications, but all special education issues can be a part of the conversation.  
Please take a moment to register to participate in the meeting here; please be sure to enter the email address where you wish to receive the link/password to join the meeting.
You will receive the link and password to join the meeting twice (once in the morning, once in the afternoon at approximately 3pm) on July 15 at the email address you entered when registering. Note: If you do not intend to participate in this meeting but still wish to be notified for future meetings, please register and indicate “No” in the drop-down asking whether or not you will participate.
Registration for this meeting will close Monday, July 13, at 4:00 p.m.
PLEASE NOTE: Registration is REQUIRED to participate in this meeting.
The email address you enter during registration is where you will receive the link/password to join the meeting.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at
Thank you for participating in this very important work.  I appreciate all you do.
C. John Larson
OEA President
Phone (503) 495-2124
Fax (503) 624-5814 
"Improving the future of all Oregonians through quality public education" 
"We help students succeed!"

Portland Association of Teachers

Upcoming Virtual Student Loan Workshops

Do You Have Student Loan Debt?


Student loan debt is one of the most serious financial challenges facing educators today.  NEA Member Benefits wants to help!  In this webinar, you will learn how to take advantage of the Federal Loan Forgiveness Programs and the new NEA Student Loan Forgiveness Navigator.  In addition, we will cover the latest developments on student loans coming out of the CARES Act and the COVID-19 crisis. 

The now FREE NEA Student Debt Navigator helps members determine whether you are eligible for federal student loan forgiveness programs, how much you could potentially reduce your loan debt and keeps you updated on new program features and developments.  


The OEA and NEA Member Benefits is hosting two workshops:

Wednesday July 15th  and Tuesday July 21st from 9:00-10:00am.


If you would like to join one of these ZOOM meetings, please RSVP here.  Once we receive your RSVP, we will send you the zoom meeting sign-in information.  Make the most of your union membership by joining this educational workshop and taking advantage of the free resources available to members only. 



March with Educators for BLM, June 11, 6pm

Thursday night, many educators are organizing to come together in support of the movement for Black Lives. Please read more below, and consider joining in!


Thursday @ 6:00pm

Meet at Revolution Hall (1300 SE Stark St)

For many of us, the last day of your school year is on Thursday.  Let’s end it by coming together in support of Black Lives Matter!

We’re calling on Portland-area educators (and beyond) to come together and join with the thousands who have been showing up nightly to march with Black Lives Matter.  There’s no formal statement as a group that we’re making, but our presence is to show that we stand for our students, our community, and for change in all institutions - including our own!
What to bring:
  • A mask
  • Wear all black or wear Black Lives Matter gear.  Bring signs.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and bring appropriate gear for weather conditions
  • Extra “safety” gear: hand sanitizer, sunglasses or protection for eyes
  • Organizers have provided snacks and water but you may want to bring your own
  • If you can, bring a buddy
Information to be aware of:
The protests, especially prior to nightfall, are largely peaceful.
With that in mind:
These are large crowds.  While there are kids of varying ages at these protests (usually 12 and up), we can’t guarantee a kid-friendly space.
It’s a long walk that ends generally in a place where we gather and listen to speeches. (This had been Waterfront Park, but has been moved to different locations the past few days.)
This is a non-violent resistance movement.  Some folks in the crowd splinter off, or other groups that one might consider more “confrontational” organize elsewhere.
You can come prepared in the unlikely (for those who do not wish it) event of a confrontation by:
  • Having protective eyewear
  • An extra mask
  • Hand sanitizer
  • A buddy to walk with
  • Check yourself - we take our cues from the BLM organizers.
More information?
This has been a quickly put-together effort, so we’re trying to gather information to answer questions you may have.
Click here for more information, which will be updated as we go along.
Looking for sign inspiration? You are welcome to print signs OEA made for BLM protests and marches.


President's Message: Finishing the Year Together

Dear Educators,

Congratulations on the completion of the 2019-2020 school year. Though it’s not the year we hoped to have, there is so much to be proud of and celebrate, while acknowledging the long road ahead.

We end the year in the midst of worldwide protests over the murder of George Floyd, and the institutional racism and white supremacy that enables police throughout the country to continue killing people of color. 

This uprising has sparked long overdue changes, and a much needed conversation over what makes our communities safe and how our public budgets should reflect our values and meet community needs. 

Night after night, tens of thousands of Portlanders have taken to the streets to protest police violence, demonstrating the power of collection action and why we must continue to organize for the world we want, for ourselves and our students. 

We know the change we want does not come easily, but we must continue to stand up and speak out. 

I’m proud of the work our Racial Equity and Social Justice committees have done to bring together educators of color and allies. As a union, PAT will continue to raise the bar, challenging us all to do better for our students and our colleagues. Our committees will continue to lead on this difficult work, and support us all in this journey. For now, we can celebrate the removal of police as a regular presence in our schools.

We should also be proud of the work we’ve done to secure more funding for schools--and our advocacy with PPS on directing how those dollars are spent. The District’s financial situation next year was a great unknown after the pandemic hit. We feared the worst, but once again, our collective action paid off. 

We took the risk of agreeing to participate in the Work Share program, and delaying our full compensation, to save an estimated $10 million for the District. We fought the businesses who wanted to use the pandemic as an excuse not to pay their taxes. We lobbied Congress for added school funding. 

And while Oregon hasn't achieved fully-funded schools yet, next year will still see an increase in our overall budget. We will have a total of 50 additional PAT members starting in the fall, and PPS is investing in the areas where we’ve highlighted our acute needs, like counselors, social workers, and special education supports.  

If the pandemic had not happened, we would be seeing lower class sizes next year, along with many other supports. Even without realizing these gains yet, our work with students and families has paved the way for where to invest new resources as we emerge from this recession.

We know summer means very different things for educators, and this summer is totally different than anything we’ve ever experienced. 

Many of us work second jobs, which may or may not exist because of COVID-19. And for those of us counting on that extra income, we’re figuring out what to do. Many of us use summer to pursue education credits or develop lesson plans. Now we must do this in the context of social distancing. Some of us are figuring out how to mark your children’s educational milestones without familiar traditions and ceremonies. While others of us are preparing our children for the next step in their education, whether it’s the first day of kindergarten or moving them into their college dorm room, there will be the added challenge of figuring out what will be open and when.

As you wrap up your year, please take a moment to acknowledge your colleagues who are retiring, switching schools, or leaving PPS. It isn’t easy to say goodbye virtually.

And as my term as PAT President ends, I’m not saying goodbye, just see you later. I look forward to continuing to serve my students and my union as a classroom educator. I’m excited for what our incoming President, Elizabeth Thiel, has planned for us moving forward, and am grateful for her leadership.

Whatever challenges and joys this summer brings you, take some time to celebrate the work we’ve done together.

In Solidarity,

Suzanne Cohen

PAT President

Charitable Giving to Support PPS Families

Many of you asked what more could be done to support our families during this pandemic- and PAT leaders came together to launch a matching campaign with the Coronavirus Relief Fund for Portland Public Schools Students and Families.

We offered up to $40,000 in matching funds….and in just 10 days we raised $38,005, which we will match for almost $80,000 in total! Thanks to you for helping build this momentum in our community, and to all the educators who dug deep and donated to this important effort. It’s impressive that the average educator contribution was $120.

This is a potent reminder that especially in the worst of times, we always come together for our students, especially those most impacted. If you know of a family in need, please work with your site’s relief fund coordinator. If you don’t know who that is, ask your administrator.

PAT PAC Update

The PAT PAC is proud to announce that we endorse Maxine Dexter for Oregon House District 33 for the November election. Maxine Dexter won the May Democratic Primary for the seat, and will be appointed in June to fill the vacancy left by the passing of Representative Mitch Greenlick. Maxine Dexter is a pulmonary and critical care doctor, and a huge proponent of universal health care. She credits public schools, and the teachers who saw her potential, for helping her become the first person in her family to go to college. She credits her union job for creating a route to finance her college education. Her personal journey has made her a staunch advocate for labor and public schools. You can read more about Maxine Dexter hereAnd, congratulations to the PAT PAC endorsed candidates who were elected in the May primary election, or who will continue on to the next step in the electoral process:

  • Mike Schmidt for Multnomah County District Attorney
  • Carmen Rubio for Portland City Council
  • Metro Councilor Bob Stacey 
  • County Commissioner Sharon Meiran
  • County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson
  • Khanh Pham for Oregon House District 46 (headed to the November general election)
  • Senator Kathleen Taylor (headed to the November general election)
  • City Councilor Chloe Eudaly (headed to November run-off)
  • Mary Nolan (headed to November run-off)

Additionally, the Here Together Campaign to fund Homeless Services passed and will provide direly needed services to keep families housed and create pathways out of houselessness.It is crucial that we elect leaders who are committed to taking bold steps to create racial equity, economic justice, and environmental sustainability in our community, as well as supporting strong public schools.

Evaluations Update

Since the beginning of remote instruction, PAT has been working with PPS to reach an understanding about how evaluations would be completed under current conditions.  Although we do not have a signed agreement, we do have a common understanding with PPS Human Resources on the guidelines we will use.

First, we have agreed that if the steps of the evaluation process-- up to and including the formal observation-- were completed prior to March 13, 2020, the administrator will schedule the remaining meetings to complete the evaluation cycle at a time mutually agreed upon by the employee. That may include postponing the final meeting(s) until the 2020-21 school year.   

Second, if any steps of the evaluation process were not completed for contract educators by March 13, 2020, the educator will be rescheduled for evaluation during the 2020-2021 school year. Rescheduling is by mutual agreement between the educator and their administrator and it would change the evaluation cycle for those affected by one year. 

If the educator and their administrator don’t agree to restart the evaluation in the fall, the evaluation can be completed immediately when school resumes next year, using what was already documented this year, plus any new information. In this case, the evaluation cycle would not have a one-year adjustment.  

Finally, if the steps of the evaluation process were not completed by March 13, 2020, and the educator is a probationary educator, the educator will be considered to have completed their required evaluation cycle for this year.  

We know how difficult this year has been, and we understand that most evaluations fit the first scenario. However, PAT and PPS wanted to give administrators and educators room to work together on a system beneficial to everyone where formal observations were not completed. 

And in no case will any work done during this period of distance learning be used in any evaluations. 

Staffing Update

One of the many things impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic is our staffing process. Due to the changing economic landscape in Oregon the District suspended the normal staffing process after the closure that began on  March 13th. 

We initially expected Student Success Act funds to add many new PAT positions to PPS. Based on these plans, PPS had already completed the first internal round of hiring before the closure. Since then, the changing budget-landscape has created a great deal of uncertainty.

Both the state’s General Fund and the anticipated revenue from the SSA are now expected to be significantly less than was projected earlier this year.  The net result of reduced state support, less SSA funds than originally expected, and savings from the furlough and purchasing freeze, will mean approximately 50 new full time educators added for next year. In other words, we’ll have significant losses from what we had hoped and planned for, but will have some modest gains in staffing as compared to this year.

With all of this in mind, we are happy to report that PAT and the district have come to an agreement on a timeline and process for continuing with staffing for the 2020-21 school year. Here are the steps for our revised staffing timeline. 

Phase 1: Updated Allocations to Schools- June 11 to June 22

Administrators receive updated allocations and determine changes to their program and schedule changes as needed based on updated budget and programming requirements.

Phase 2: Notification - June 22nd

Administrators notify educators whose position will change from their original 2020-2021 assignment. Some educators may be newly unassigned, others may be restored. Unless your administrator contacts you, you should assume your original assignment at your current school (AY 2019-20) remains in effect.

Any educator who was not unassigned originally, but becomes unassigned after new staffing allocations are determined will be able to apply in a restricted internal round before jobs are posted more widely.

Phase 3: HR Review - June 22 to July 9

Human Resources reviews each school’s updated assignments. All internal transfers that were accepted and still exist will be honored. Any leave of absence request will be honored (unless the educator has requested to rescind).

Phase 4: Finalizing Remaining Assignments - July 6 to July 16

The Office of School Performance and HR will finalize the assignment for any educator who remains unassigned.

Any educator that had previously accepted a transfer for a position that no longer exists will be able to participate in an expedited application and selection process for vacant positions.

Phase 5: Jobs Posted - End of July

HR posts vacancies not impacted by layoff.If needed, HR begins the layoff process by endorsement area and seniority.

Work Share Updates

Work Share Update: Salary Advances

We understand you may be experiencing financial hardship since there have been delays receiving the additional $600 weekly payments, as well as the weekly unemployment benefits you should be receiving as part of the Work Share program.

Please be aware that, if needed, you can apply for a salary advance from the District. 

If you are in need of a salary advance please contact: 

Ondra Matthews

Assistant Director - Payroll Services

(503) 916-3283

Work Share Update: Problems with Home Financing?

If you are financing or refinancing a home and you have concerns about how the Work Share pay reduction will impact your mortgage financing, the first step you should take is to have your lender call the The Work Number at 1-800-367-2884. They will need the PPS employer code (10999) and your social security number to access employment information. 

PPS has assured us that they have been reporting no reduction in salary level so there should not be any problems. If, however, you are experiencing any difficulties please contact Penny Robertson at You may need to request that you be taken out of the Work Share program to guarantee that your mortgage financing is not jeopardized.

Building Access after June 11

Some of you have asked about gaining access to your buildings after Thursday, June 11. After PAT brought these concerns forward, Shawn Bird, Chief of Schools, sent an email to all principals clarifying that during the week of June 15, principals, counselors, media specialists and secretaries may be in buildings. Shawn Bird also clarified that while most educators should plan to wrap up everything in their classrooms by the end of the day on June 11, principals should work with individual teachers who need additional time, especially those retiring and those with significant packing needs. 

If you anticipate needing access to your classroom after June 11, contact your principal this week to make arrangements.

OEA Summer Conference: Registration Now Open!

OEA members have stood strong and amplified our voices in decision-making circles in our Districts and in Salem, despite the unprecedented challenges we have faced this year. We have built on the power and promise of our union by lifting up the lived experiences of our colleagues, students, and communities to translate the funding improvements we fought for and won in 2019 into tangible changes in our classrooms and schools.

Join educators from around the state this summer as we build on our momentum and make plans for the 2020-2021 school year. At the Virtual Summer Conference, everyone is a teacher, everyone is a learner, and we all are sowing the seeds of change. 

Please register to join us online at our 2020 OEA Virtual Summer Conference: Power + Promise: Our union’s potential in unprecedented times. See the course offerings and register here!

You can register for as many or as few sessions as you like, and there will be tracks focusing on Advocacy, Equity, Professional Practice, Leadership, as well as Affinity Group spaces.

Contract Exceptions- Deadline is August 5, 2020

We have extended the deadline for Contract Exceptions for the 2020-2021 academic year to August 5, 2020. The Advocacy Committee will meet on August 12, 2020  to review all of the contract exception applications that have been submitted. This will still allow us time to approve/deny submitted exceptions prior to the start of next school.

The contract exception process will obviously be a little different this time, as you won’t be able to hold an in-person secret ballot vote, and you may not have access to a printer or scanner to submit your application and other documentation. Members have already found some creative ways to get around these hurdles:

  • For voting, members have been using electronic voting systems. Thank you to one of our colleagues, Julie Wright at da Vinci, who shared with us an online Google Forms ballot she created, which allows people to vote anonymously. [Click Here to access the ballot forms and instructions] You are not required to use this specific ballot, but it has worked well for some members.
  • If you don’t have a printer and scanner to submit the required documentation, you can take screenshots of your online ballot, or use your cell phone to take photos of any necessary documents.
  • Normally your administrator is required to sign the completed application. In lieu of their physical signature, you can have the administrator send you an email saying something like: “Although I am not physically able to sign this document, I am authorizing that my signature be used on this contract exception application, and I agree with the plan as proposed.”

If you have any questions about whether one of your “alternative” forms of documentation will be considered valid by the Advocacy Committee, please contact 

Please submit your Contract Exception applications to no later than Wednesday, August 5, 2020.