District’s Bargaining Team Pushing for a Crisis!
(1) The District’s team ended interest-based bargaining (IBB).
(2) The District’s team asked for mediation. This is one of three decision points in state law to move towards the ability to unilaterally implement the District’s bargaining proposal and for PAT to declare a strike.
(3) The District is repeating a bargaining strategy used in 2013 to refuse to bargain over permissive subjects of bargaining. This time the District’s strategists are refusing to bargain over workload, class sizes, caseloads, number of preparations (distinct courses), and staff meetings. PAT is now forced to create complex alternate bargaining proposals to preserve its interests. This is a time-consuming strategy that delays the bargaining process. To make matters worse, the Districts strategists are rolling out their objections a few at a time. This delays the necessary legal review before creating alternative packages.
(4) District team members have stated that we need to be in a crisis to reach a settlement.
District’s Legal Shenanigans Delay Start of Mediation
After the District deployed its legal maneuver to object to certain bargaining proposals right before mediation (and the Fourth of July holiday), the previously scheduled mediation meetings had to be delayed to allow PAT to rewrite its proposals. The first mediation date is scheduled for Monday, July 17th at 9:00 am at PAT. The meeting is not open to the public. This meeting starts the next stage in the bargaining timeline to move towards the District imposing its contract or PAT being able to call a strike.
Who is left Bargaining for the District?
When PAT and the District started interest-based bargaining each side named a 12-person bargaining team. Of the 12 District team members, most have left. Here is the original team and what happened to each member:
Carole Smith, Superintendent – resigned
Amanda Whalen, Head of Staff – resigned
Chris Russo, Asst. Supt. – resigned
Sean Murray, Chief HR officer – resigned
Catherine Cusimano, Chief Negotiator – resigned
Paul Anthony, Board of Ed Member – cut when team reduced numbers
Christie Lindholm, Principal – cut when team reduced numbers
Greg Wolleck, Senior Director – cut when team reduced numbers
Amy Kleiner, Principal – cut when team reduced numbers
Amy Kohnstamm, Board Member – not included in mediation team
Antonio Lopez, Asst. Superintendent – not included in mediation team
Yousef Awwad, Interim Superintendent – only partially participating in mediation team
No True District Decision-makers Named to Attend Mediation
The District informed PAT that its mediation team would consist of the following members:
Laird Cusack, Chief Negotiator: No teaching or administrative licensure or experience, starting working for PPS in November 2016. Not on original District team
Jen Thomas, HR Representative: Hired by PPS in last few weeks. Never attended a PPS bargaining session. Former California teacher. Not on original District team
Ryan Dutcher, Interim CFO: To our knowledge no teaching or administrative licensure, never attended a PPS bargaining session, not on original District team
Sascha Perrins, Chief of Staff: Former principal and Senior Director, alternate for original team
Stephanie Harper, HR Attorney: No teaching or administrative licensure or experience, alternate for original District Team
Yousef Awwad, Interim Superintendent: No teaching or school administration experience, received temporary administrative license on 6/9/2017, on original District team (was only available for minor portion of scheduled mediation)
It is clear the District is fielding a third string team that has limited to no history with this bargain, limited experience with teaching or school administration, and limited authority to make decisions. Past team members with experience and authority are no longer attending. If we are to make progress to avoid a crisis, the District needs to commit to having true decision-makers at the table.
Is the School Board Being Left out of the Loop?
Some School Board members have reported that they did not know the District had pulled out of interest based bargaining and had asked to go to mediation. Board members also report they were not informed of the District’s choice to repeat divisive strategies used in 2013 leading up to a strike vote by PAT members. Board members who were on the bargaining team are no longer attending. Without an active superintendent, only the School Board has the authority to stop these failed strategies that are leading to another crisis.
PAT Members Tell School Board to Get Involved to Avert a Strike
The Board of Education meeting on Tuesday started with a sea of blue PAT “Fighting for the Schools Portland Students Deserve” t-shirts. We appreciated all of those who responded to targeted asks from our organizers to attend. This is especially impressive since this occurred in the middle of July. PAT President Suzanne Cohen addressed the Board to get involved in bargaining and stop this attack upon staff that may lead to another crisis. She offered a different vision where we work with the Board to rebuild educational leadership and stability in the District.