Bargaining Brief, December 5, 2017

Your PAT bargaining team met with the District until close to 8:00 PM last night.

We presented a mini-package of issues to the District in the morning, and after an exchange of proposals we were able to settle on language for several smaller articles where we’ve been previously close to agreement.

We spent the rest of day in substantive discussions on several key issues including salary, the length of the workday and the work year, and professional development. 

Safety was also at the top of the agenda for your bargaining team. We provided the District’s bargaining team with a comprehensive history of how we’ve struggled with PPS to address the safety problems in our schools, and how the District’s inaction over the years is the reason for many of the provisions in our current contract. The issue of trust, and how it broke down in recent years, came up repeatedly.

Your bargaining team made it clear that we will continue to use every means at our disposal, including our contract, to create a safe and supportive learning environment for our students, whether its fully funding critical supports like para-educators, or restoring the full continuum of special education services.

From our discussions, it is clear the Superintendent’s background as an educator gives him important insights into the challenges we’re facing in our buildings day-in, day-out. Moreover, his perspective on both special education and safety issues in the District are a welcome change from his predecessors, who spent much of their tenure denying these problems even existed.

But in the end, your bargaining team made it clear that words are easy to come by. Actions are how we will judge this new administration, and they need to function differently if they want to rebuild the trust of classroom educators. Making decisions without any input from educators—like the recently announced closure of the middle and high school Pioneer programs—is a move in the opposite direction.

It’s too early to tell whether we can count on the new leadership at PPS to make decisions collaboratively with educators. What is clear from our bargaining session yesterday, however, is that applying pressure on key School Board members and District leaders works

Your collective efforts are having an impact!

As one small example, PPS has now moved the question and answer session at Pioneer to Wednesday December 13th, so that Superintendent Guerrero can be there to hear directly from teachers and parents what these changes will mean for students. This means that the rally, originally planned for Thursday December 7th, will happen Wednesday December 13th at 4:30 PM at the Pioneer Special School, 2600 SE 71st Ave Portland, OR 97206.

We will to continue to push District leaders to do what’s in the best interests of students and educators, including tonight at the School Board meeting, where educators and parents from Pioneer will be speaking out against these proposed changes. There is a rally starting at 4:30 PM. Wear red to show your support.

Our next mediation session with the District is Monday December 11th.

We need every PAT member to stay informed and engaged if we want to bring negotiations to a successful conclusion.