Today your PAT Bargaining Team met with PPS management for our 5th bargaining session. PAT has already presented our full package of proposals to PPS management along with several counter-proposals. PPS came to the table today with proposals on Compensation, Retirement, and Extended Responsibility. Although we are still far apart on certain issues, we did make progress today when we tentatively agreed (TA’d) on Article 4: Dues and Payroll Deductions and Article 25: Complaint Procedure.
PPS Management began the session with a presentation about the fiscal situation at PPS and student to staff ratios to demonstrate PPS’ commitment to using funds to increase staff. The PAT team asked questions about the data and pointed out the concerns we had about the lack of context: Which staff are included in this count? Does this include the district special programs and charter schools? Luckily following our caucuses, they were able to bring more information to clarify the difference between class size and a student to staff ratio, sharing a graph explaining the class size distribution across the district. We believe that transparency is only possible by providing the facts ALONG with context for the facts: Staff to student ratio is NOT equivalent to class size.
We are glad PPS Management finally completed their initial proposal by giving us financials. Unfortunately, the financial proposal is woefully inadequate. PPS Management has proposed a 2.5% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) when inflation is over 6%. In the slideshow they shared, they conflated the increased income that comes with experience with a COLA, reporting that educators not yet at the top of our scale will have their salary increase close to 5.9% each year. The steps on our salary schedule are not, and have never been, part of our COLA.
In contrast to the fiscal overview provided by PPS, the testimony from our PAT educators clearly demonstrated that our schools are in a state of emergency. We want to thank Nina Senaga-Freauff, Moira Finnegan, and Kernan Willis for sharing powerful testimony with PPS management about the lived experiences and conditions in our Special Education programs. The testimony they shared was powerful and brought several of us in the room to tears. We sincerely hope to see counter proposals from management that demonstrate they are prepared to meaningfully respond to the extreme needs of students and educators that were highlighted in today’s testimonials.
We know the last two years have been financially challenging for everyone. The District’s unwillingness to recognize that reality with the proposals they made is an insult to our hardworking educators who’ve been so deeply impacted by the increasing cost of living in Portland.
We will be back at the table on April 4th, 2023. You can always watch us live on our YouTube page and catch up with the sessions from today 1, 2, 3.
Steve Lancaster, Chair