Bargaining Brief 6.13.21: Teams Reach Tentative Agreement

Dear PAT Colleagues:

Your PAT Bargaining Team is pleased to inform you that late Saturday evening, we achieved a Tentative Agreement with the District team for a two-year successor agreement to our 2019-2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement. We will be bringing this TA to you this week for ratification so that it can go into effect in time for next year. 

Both teams had agreed to bring a limited number of issues to the table in the hopes that by limiting the scope of the bargain we would be able to arrive at an agreement before the summer break.  While we brought a handful of proposals to the table, the issues of greatest importance to the PAT for this limited bargain were obtaining contractual supports that would help to recruit, support and retain educators of color in PPS, and to secure a fair cost of living adjustment for all members.  

The District welcomed a discussion of our shared interest in supports for educators of color, and also brought a set of additional issues. The most complex and controversial of these was a school reform initiative that would have sweeping implications for our contract and the teaching conditions in affected schools.  PAT and the District share the goal of adding resources to schools with high needs, and therefore we put forth PAT’s vision for doing so based on the elements outlined in The Schools Portland Students Deserve and the State of Oregon “Quality Education Model.”  In the end, creating a new school reform/support model proved too complex for a limited scope of bargaining and PPS entirely withdrew their proposal.  PAT likewise withdrew several items which ultimately allowed both parties to partner in finding new ways to better support educators of color. 

The highlights of what was agreed to include:

  • 3% COLA for 2020-21 with retroactive pay to July 1st, 2020 for all employed during the term of the agreement, including retirees
  • 3% COLA for 2021-22 effective July 1, 2021
  • All employees in the BA+0 column of the pay scale will be moved to the corresponding step in the BA+15 and the BA+0 column will be eliminated making Step One of BA+15 the new base salary.
  • A package of improvements to attract, support, and retain educators of color: 
  • Stipend for Bilingual Educators, as defined in our CBA appendix I
  • Stipend for DLI Educators
  • Pay for educators who lead affinity groups
  • The creation of a program of Peer Support for new educators of color
  • Professional development for all members on anti-racism, implicit bias, and culturally responsive practices.
  • We also agreed to a separate process to take place early next year, to talk about Article 9 in our contract (Safety) and the Student’s Rights and Responsibilities Handbook.  The goal of the discussions will be to identify and change language that may disproportionately impact traditionally underserved students.  

There were a number of issues that we were unable to come to agreement on including changes to the Workload Overage language, eliminating the sunset on our Early Retirement Incentive, and creating a “Grow Your Own” program to support PPS students of color to become PPS professional educators. For now, our current contract language on Overages and ERI stands, and we will bring all these issues (and others) back to the table for a full bargain next year.

The PAT is encouraged by the good faith effort of the PPS team in achieving resolution on our mutual goals and we are hopeful that the productive working relationship established during this year’s negotiations will continue to develop as we return to the table this fall.

Next Steps

Given the extremely short time remaining in the school year, your Bargaining Team will be working through the rest of the weekend to complete the formal contract language and prepare materials for the membership to review in order to vote for ratification by Tuesday, the last contract day of the school year. 

We will present the Tentative Agreement to the PAT Executive Board on Monday and ask for the board’s recommendation. 

On Tuesday, June 15th at 2:00 pm, we will hold an all-member meeting to present the Tentative Agreement and answer questions. Please look for a link on Monday to register 

The ratification vote will open on Tuesday the 15th, and will stay open until Monday the 21st.  

We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday, and then signing off for the summer.

Special thanks to Angela Bonilla and Nadia Coronado for adding their important voice and deep professional experience to our bargaining sessions.


In Solidarity, 

Your PAT Bargaining Team-

Steve Lancaster, Chair

Emy Markewitz

Francisca Alvarez

Charity Powell

Andre Hawkins

Thea Keith

 

 

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Bargaining Brief June 12, 2021

Dear PAT Colleagues:

This weekend, your Bargaining team is prepared to spend all day Saturday and into Sunday to negotiate a tentative agreement on this mini-bargain. You can watch all our sessions this weekend, as well as past sessions, here.

Thanks to all of you who took our survey last week on Accelerated Schools and the Schools Portland Students Deserve. Here are the results. Educators are strongly united in our belief that to improve outcomes for our historically underserved students, we must start by fully resourcing schools with small class sizes, wrap-around services, and well-rounded offerings including the arts, library, physical education, and recess. 

We presented the survey results to the district on Wednesday, along with our PAT counter-proposal.   The survey absolutely supports the PAT’s desire to put into place the beliefs expressed in the “Schools Portland Students Deserve.” Our counter-proposal replaces the District’s misguided “Acceleration” ideas as originally proposed, with the supports and practices outlined in our shared PAT vision.

On Friday, the district presented another PPS counter-proposal on Acceleration Schools, which made significant movement toward the values you expressed in our survey, including dropping the proposal to unassign educators for any reason and numerous other objectionable provisions.  Nonetheless, there remain several areas that are highly problematic which must be addressed to achieve a program design that we believe PAT members can support.

The District also presented on Friday PPS counter-proposals on Attracting, Supporting, and Retaining Educators of Color.

We have made significant progress on some of the issues we brought to the table, including peer support for educators of color, racial equity professional development for all educators, official monetary support for the facilitators of affinity groups, and a financial acknowledgement of the unique workload demands for educators in Dual Language Instruction programs.

Other issues still on the table include stabilization of schools with high turnover, acknowledgement of the work of bi-lingual educators, a few additions or adjustments to the workload overage chart, and a reasonable Cost-of-Living Adjustment to our salary schedule which would be retro-active to the 2019-2020 school year.

We will send you another update after the weekend. If we do not come to an agreement, we will regroup and prepare to enter into a major negotiation in the fall. 

If the PAT does come to a tentative agreement with the district this weekend, we will not be voting to ratify the agreement until we return in August. First, the PAT Executive Board must meet, fully review the agreement, and vote to recommend for ratification. After that, the entire PAT membership must be able to thoroughly review the details of the agreement. We can’t accomplish that before we all return in August because we know that many PAT members are away over the summer break.

Finally, we will NOT leave you wondering what has happened. If we do reach a tentative agreement, the PAT bargaining team will provide the full TA and a detailed outline to prepare for a vote in August. If we cannot reach a tentative agreement, we will send out a communication to explain where and why the District failed to meet your demands.  

In Solidarity, 

Your PAT Bargaining Team-

Steve Lancaster, Chair

Emy Markewitz

Francisca Alvarez

Charity Powell

Andre Hawkins

Thea Keith

Bargaining Survey: Mini-Bargain

Dear PAT Educator,

Please read the information below, and then take the bargaining survey that was sent to your PPS email inbox around 5:30pm on Thursday, June 3.

(The survey will close at 5:00pm next Tuesday, June 8. Only PAT members may take the survey. If you are not a member of PAT, but would like to join so that you can take this and future bargaining surveys, please email [email protected] ASAP.)

Thank you in advance for taking the survey. Your feedback is invaluable in assisting the PAT Bargaining Team.

 

The information below is also listed within the survey itself.

Introduction

This May, PPS and PAT began a limited bargain to cover a few key areas of importance for the Union and the District. PAT agreed to limit its proposals to COLA increases, to an adjustment to the early retirement incentive language, to clarifications and modifications of the Overage language, and to a limited set of proposals addressing the recruitment, support, and retention of educators of color working in Portland Public Schools.   

PPS agreed to limit its proposals to clarifications and modifications of the Overage language, to proposals related to Article 9 and the Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook, to proposals to create a differentiated approach to support underserved schools, and to clarifications and modifications to the Middle School schedules.   

 

Section I: The District’s Plan for “Accelerated Schools”

The District’s proposals to create a differentiated approach to support underserved schools has been presented under concepts they are calling “Accelerated Schools”. You can view the District’s proposal here. You can watch the bargaining sessions in which the District presented the proposal, and where the bargaining team asked questions about the proposal at the PAT YouTube Channel

The District’s Proposal includes the following elements: 

  1. In recognition of the additional work time and responsibilities expected of professional educators assigned to Acceleration schools, each professional educator shall be paid a yearly stipend of $10,000. 
  2. Educators who receive the $10,000 stipend will not be eligible for any other compensation for extended days and/or work hours unless such time is in excess of that set forth in this agreement. 
  3. The District may involuntarily transfer educators out of an Acceleration school for any reason. 
  4. Additional duties and responsibilities on the part of educators will be required. 
  5. Five (5) additional contract days for purposes of district-directed professional development. 
  6. Fifteen (15) district-directed professional development sessions outside of the regular contract day of up to two (2) hours in length each.
  7. The educator workday will be extended for 1 hour. The student day will also be extended (probably by 30 minutes).
  8. Professional educators may be required to create written lesson plans in accordance with the identified curriculum.   
  9. Educators will engage in 30 minutes of coaching with either an administrator or an instructional coach every other week.   

 

SECTION II: The Schools Portland Students Deserve

The Schools Portland Students Deserveis a vision and a bargaining campaign developed by PAT in 2015 to outline a plan for improving Portland's schools. This document was created through two years of member and community engagement. Though we continue to fight for this vision, we have not yet realized the teaching and learning conditions that we envisioned as “The  Schools Portland Students Deserve”. 

In our current bargain, it is encouraging that PPS is acknowledging the need for increased support at targeted schools. We are hopeful we can partner with them on dramatically improving services for our historically underserved communities, and we see the possibility to connect this value back to what educators have identified in our vision for what our schools should be. (Watch Part 1 of the June 2nd bargaining session where the bargaining team spoke about this vision.)

In light of PPS’s recent proposals around “Accelerated Schools'', we are interested in your feedback aboutThe Schools Portland Students Deserveto find out to what extent this vision addresses the goal of creating better outcomes for historically underserved students

The Schools Portland Students Deserveis based on eight guiding principles:

  1. Smaller Class Sizes: The 2018 ODE Quality Education Model includes the following:  PreK-1: 20; 2nd-3rd: 23;  4-5th: 24; 6-8th: average of 22 with a cap of 29 in core classes;  9-12th: average of 21 with a cap of 29 in core class. Caseload caps and total load caps would also be implemented for all educators. 
  2. Educate the Whole Child: All students have equitable access to recess, arts, library, technology, etc. across the District.
  3. Educate Every Child: Improve services for ELL and Special Education, including smaller caseloads and a full spectrum of services. 
  4. Wrap Around and Support Services: Prioritize historically underserved communities and provide daily access to nurses, counselors, school psychologists, QMHPs, SLPs, Social Workers, etc.
  5. More Teaching, Less Testing: Prioritize culturally responsive teaching over standardized testing.
  6. More Funding for Classroom Supports: Allow the school community to set budget priorities and shift funding away from top-down initiatives. 
  7. Transparent, Collaborative, and Respectful Administration: Involve community and teachers in decision making.
  8. Professional Autonomy and Academic Freedom: Permit teachers to draw from student experience and teach culturally relevant content, prioritize teacher planning time, and commit to fair evaluations.

Bargaining Brief- May 19 & 21, 2021

Dear PAT Partners:

Your PAT bargaining Team met with the District team on Wednesday, May 19 (Part 1Part 2) for a half-day session, and again on Friday, May 21 (Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7) for a full day of negotiations. 

Wednesday’s efforts can be characterized as frustrating.  The District essentially rejected all aspects of the PAT proposals, and when they finally introduced some proposals of their own (“Article 7 – District Proposal” and “Early Retirement Incentive - District Proposal”), they amounted to significant take-backs. 

Your PAT Team’s proposal regarding workload is an attempt to address problems with the Article 8 workload section known as Overages.  PAT’s proposal wanted to make sure that all job classifications had workload protection, sought to create a true representation of the work being done by educators, and aimed to reduce the dollar amount of any dispute that might arise by turning the payment into a monthly calculation rather than two half-year calculations as they are now.  In response, PPS rejected all but the inclusion of the additional job classifications.  The District is well aware that they have failed to honestly live by their prior agreements on workload, and their proposal simply doubled-down on the desire to continue to take advantage of PAT members.

On Wednesday, your PAT Team also received essentially a rejection of your early retirement proposal.  Happily, we finally received the District’s proposal regarding Middle School redesign.  The District has now reduced its concepts down to Middle School planning minutes.  PPS offered a proposal on planning minutes for Middle School staff equal to that of elementary school educators, even though that amount of time is a reduction in the total minutes per week that Middle School educators already receive.  On Friday, we countered this by pointing out that PAT is open to making Middle School and Elementary School PAT members have equal planning minutes, but that the minimum number of minutes for Elementary School educators would have to increase to accomplish that rather than arriving at that goal by making Middle School educators’ jobs more difficult. 

Wednesday ended without a District response to the PAT set of proposals regarding support for educators of color, and without a submission from the District of what the District seeks to change with Article 9 and the Student Rights and Responsibility Handbook.  Needless to say, we could not negotiate or discuss proposals that we did not have, and we again asked the District to provide the response and the proposal.

Friday, May 21, was strangely an improvement over what happened on Wednesday.  Although there were no significant agreements reached, PAT finally received a response from the District (“District Counter (Partial)- Educators of Color” and “District Counter Turnover”) regarding our proposals to support educators of color. 

Your PAT Team was very happy to finally receive a response; however it was clear from the discussions that PPS didn’t take the time to understand the PAT proposals.  To begin with, the District didn’t realize that the PAT proposal to add specifics to the M.7.1 current language was part of the supports for educators of color package.  In addition, after positive discussions with District representatives on topics like Peer Support, affinity group facilitation stipends, the bilingual educator stipends, schools with high educator turnover, and finally, grow your own proposals, your PAT Team and the District Team realized that PPS needed to reexamine its counter proposals.  That is NOT a negative development, but after four negotiation sessions, your PAT Team hoped that the discussions about our proposals would be more on-point.  It is now clear that PPS clearly desires to engage in real discussions on these topics, and is willing to bring the PPS leaders to the table who are working to improve District efforts. 

Also on Friday, your PAT Team gave the District counters to the rejections that we received on Wednesday.  Essentially, we resubmitted our proposals (“PAT Counter to Early Retirement”, “PAT Article 7 Counter”, and “PAT Counter to District Overages Counter”).  The reason for the resubmission of our positions is that PPS seems to feel that the proposals on these topics were somehow part of a traditional give and take, and not a clear expression of PAT member needs.  Finally, your PAT Team offered counter proposals (“PAT Counter to District Counter (Partial)- Educators of Color” and “PAT Counter to District Turnover Counter”) to the District on supporting educators of color and on high turnover schools. 

Your PAT Team and the District Team will meet again on Wednesday, May 26th for a full day of bargaining. 

We want to be clear to all of you, we will not enter into some form of regressive agreement in an attempt to gain fair compensation.  What is obvious to anyone following bargaining is that the issues currently being introduced by PPS in this “limited bargain” are too important to ever agree to for ANY financial gain.  We count on all of you to assist your Bargaining Team to help the District understand this when your organizing team calls on everyone for a show of support.  By standing together we can move the District to appropriate reconsideration of its proposals and closer to the issues your PAT Team has given to the District. 

 

In Solidarity, 

Your PAT Bargaining Team-

Steve Lancaster, Chair

Emy Markewitz

Francisca Alvarez

Charity Powell

Andre Hawkins

Thea Keith

Bargaining Brief, May 17, 2021

Dear PAT Colleagues,

Your PAT Bargaining Team met with the District Team on May 5th and again on May 12th.  The purpose of those meetings was to set ground rules and to exchange initial proposals.  PAT made our initial proposal on May 5th, and PPS made a partial District Initial Proposal on May 12th.  You can watch the May 5th and 12th sessions here.   

As you know, our collective bargaining agreement went into status quo after its expiration on July 1st of 2020.  We were scheduled to begin successor bargaining right after Spring Break of 2020.  Needless to say, things didn't go as planned and we found ourselves bargaining throughout most of the 2020-21 school year over issues related to teaching during a pandemic.  With our CBA nearing a second year in expiration, we have agreed to enter into a very limited scope of negotiations with the District in the hopes that we can obtain a successor agreement before the end of this school year. 

The issues that PAT has brought forward include a COLA for the 2020-21 school year of 3.5% and another 3.5% for 2021-22.  We are also seeking to make a revision to the way that class load/case load overages are paid, an extension of early retirement insurance benefits, and a package of programs and benefits that we believe will help PPS to attract, develop, support, and retain educators of color.

The District has brought forward the issue of COLAs, offering 2% for 2020-21 and 2.5% for 2021-22.  In addition, they wish to discuss a proposal for a new initiative they are calling the Accelerated Cohort program, changes to our safety language as it relates to the Student’s Rights and Responsibilities Handbook, and Middle School schedules.  The District has not yet fully delivered their proposals regarding safety and Middle School schedules, but you can view what they have provided so far, as well as all PAT proposals, on our website.

We have had two meetings with the District in the last two weeks, which you can view on our YouTube channel.  We are scheduled to meet with the District again on Wednesday, May 19th, where we expect to hear the remainder of the District’s initial proposal.  A number of other dates have been calendared to continue bargaining with the mutual goal of arriving at a settlement before summer break.  If successful, this will ensure that we start the 2021-22 school year with a fully in-force CBA and allow us time to enter into full negotiations during the fall and winter of the 2021-22 school year for a new CBA that would take effect July 1st of 2022.  It will also allow for retroactive payment of the 2020-21 COLA before the start of the next school year.

As always, our success in bargaining depends on you and your support, so thank you for taking time to stay informed and engaged in this important process!

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Bargaining Brief, March 14, 2021

Fellow PAT Members,

At approximately 12:30 AM Monday, your PAT Team and the District reached a tentative agreement on the return to in-person education under a Hybrid model. 

(Saturday bargaining sessions: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5; Sunday sessions: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5.)

The process of arriving at a full COVID-19 MOU began in late July of 2020, and we finally have completed that process.  Our team will meet with the PAT Executive Board to present the agreement, and as quickly as possible, we will present the agreement to the entire membership.  If possible, members will have the opportunity to review and discuss the agreement during the normal staff meeting time on Tuesday afternoon, but that must be agreed to by PPS HR.  

We want to thank the almost 400 members who stayed with us via YouTube on a Sunday until late in the evening for all of the support.  The emails so many of you sent, and the rally and organizing that so many of you took part in made it possible to move the District to the agreement we now have.

We look forward to presenting the terms for ratification as quickly as we can produce the materials and prepare the presentation.

 

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Bargaining Brief- March 11, 2021

Fellow PAT Colleagues:

Your Bargaining Team met again with PPS on Thursday, March 11 (Part 1Part 2), and in a small group meeting on Wednesday, March 10, 2021.  The tone of the two meetings differed greatly, but the topics covered give both teams the direction towards a joint agreement.

On Wednesday, PPS and some PAT Team members discussed a wide range of topics with the goal of both teams being ready for Thursday’s full-team bargain.  Although the two teams differed greatly on some issues, we did reach a common conceptual understanding on childcare options for PAT members, the development of Safety Committees in each building, member access to alternate assignments if individual circumstances require it, and the need for building staff to work with administrators to develop plans that suit their particular student and family needs

However, on Thursday the tone abruptly changed because PPS would not move on two key issues.  First, PPS and your PAT Team strongly disagreed on the amount of planning and preparation time required to have students return to in-person instruction.  PAT stated that educators need a minimum of five days of PD/building/room/office prep to be ready for students to return to in-person instruction.  PPS believes that the maximum amount of meeting and planning time for students to return is three days.  Having students begin in-person learning on Thursday April 1st, as opposed to the following Monday, places an unacceptable and unnecessary burden on educators to ensure the safe and successful transition for students back into our buildings with a mere 72 hours of time to accomplish a monumentally complex task.  

Our position is also consistent with Beaverton’s recent agreement, which begins to phase students back in starting on April 5th .

The second area of contention revolved around the official safety guidelines that will be followed for the remainder of this school year.  PPS contended that they wish to have the ability to change the implementation of safety precautions whenever the Ready Schools Safe Learners document is updated by the ODE, without returning to the bargaining table.  Your Bargaining Team insisted that the terms of the MOA we are currently negotiating should concretely delineate the safety conditions that will prevail for the remaining two months of this school year, allowing staff and families to fully understand the conditions in which they will teach and learn.  Safety issues are a mandatory subject of bargaining under Oregon law and your PAT Team would never agree to allow the District to make unilateral changes to safety conditions without obtaining the consent of professional educators through the bargaining process.

We encourage members to tune in to bargaining when possible this weekend.  The two teams are scheduled to meet on Saturday and on Sunday from 9 AM until whenever it takes to get an agreement.

 

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Bargaining Brief- March 4, 2021

Dear PAT Colleagues,

 

Your PAT Bargaining Team met with PPS yesterday (Part 1Part 2) to negotiate terms for a safe, stable, and equitable return to in-person education.  The session resulted in frank discussions which resulted in one key victory.  

 

PAT finally moved PPS to agree that simulcast is no longer a plan the District is intending to use for in-person education.  Instead, simulcast is a plan that will be used only if educators select it as the best option for their school.  The hundreds of PAT member emails sent to district leaders telling them why simulcast/concurrent learning is a bad educational model made a difference, and the issue now appears to be settled.  We would love to see the District return the cameras that they spent $1.5 million on, and instead use that money to truly modernize our classrooms and make sure our facilities are ready to provide greater indoor and outdoor in-person opportunities for students.  

 

Although this win was significant, PAT did not receive substantive responses to any of the new proposals presented to the District related to quality education and safe working conditions.

 

To begin with, your Team proposed a Safety Committee for each building, “to ensure that all of the provisions pertaining to health and safety in this agreement are in place.”  That committee would be made up of building administrators and PAT members approved by the Association who would evaluate all spaces and certify that the terms of the agreement were met. 

 

We also made a proposal which would guarantee that educator voice would be part of approving any in-person educational model.  Our proposed language states (among other things), “Professional educators and building administrators will select the instructional model for in-person instruction that best meets the student and family needs of their school community.  The selection within the building will be approved after a building vote.”  We believe that this language meets the District’s stated position that the models used in April will be building specific.  By having an equal professional educator and administrator voice in making that decision, we believe that the needs of families and students will actually be the guides for building plans, rather than purely PPS-institutional needs. 

 

The other proposal of major significance is that your PAT Team totally rejected the district proposal that educators and students would be required to clean high-touch surfaces between cohorts of students.  While PAT does not represent custodial staff, we have a difficult time understanding how the cleaning that is necessary to maintain a safe environment for students and educators can be done without hiring additional custodial staff.  Requiring educators and students to clean is not a solution.

 

Your PAT Team believes that through the use of building Safety Committees, professional educator voice in selecting the instructional model that is right for their school community, and common-sense protocols on cleaning in classrooms, we will be able to create a workable set of conditions to return to in-person instruction.  Those ideas, combined with earlier proposals for alternate assignments for educators with medical/family needs, paid leaves for those educators that are not able to return to any form of in-person instruction, access to childcare, adequate educator-directed time in the week, and all of the other safety and workload provisions we have proposed, will produce a fourth quarter where PAT members can truly meet student and educator needs for safe, stable, and equitable school communities. 

 

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Special Bargaining Brief -February 25, 2021

Colleagues:

Today, February 25, 2021, was a date your PAT Team had agreed would be an extended bargaining session with PPS.  Yesterday we realized that continuing to meet with PPS while it actively ignored PAT member positions was a futile endeavor, and therefore we canceled the bargaining session.

In bargaining on the 22nd, PPS continued to suggest that the “simulcast/concurrent learning” instructional model was only one option for K-5 instruction this spring, and was simply being presented to show one idea.  Unfortunately, at the PPS School Board Meeting, the tone and comments during the presentation of the simulcast/concurrent learning model did not indicate that it was simply an idea.  The District’s $1.5 million purchase of camera equipment, completed before ever mentioning the concept of a simulcast hybrid model to PAT, appears to be another strong indication of their intentions to act unilaterally.  In addition, based on the data presented to our Team on Monday, PAT believes that the District’s highly flawed family interest survey data, as presented to the School Board on Tuesday, was a less than fully honest portrayal of the results. 

Your PAT Bargaining Team has been absolutely direct with PPS on multiple occasions, that 93% of the PAT membership believes the simulcast/concurrent learning model is terrible, and that the PAT Team would never accept such an approach.  In spite of this, PPS is pushing that exact plan without offering any alternatives.  We canceled today’s bargaining session because your Team will not allow PPS to ignore the clearly stated beliefs of the overwhelming majority of PAT professional educators.   

This afternoon, PAT Organizers, the PAT Bargaining Team, and PAT Leadership are meeting to plan our next steps.  Very soon you will receive a survey which we hope to have everyone complete, and your Building Organizer will reach out for other forms of member feedback related to the return to in-person instruction. 

Your PAT Bargaining Team follows the will of our members, and we will only take a position when we know what the majority of our members believe.  We look forward to hearing from all of you through our survey and the Building Organizers.

As always, we succeed in moving your interests forward when all of us stand together.

 

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Bargaining Brief- February 22, 2021

PAT Colleagues:

 

Your PAT Bargaining Team met with PPS in bargaining negotiations on Thursday, February 18th (Part 1Part 2Part 3), and on Monday, February 22nd (Part 1).  The primary focus of both sessions was the District’s announced plan to begin a Hybrid instructional model in April this year.  

 

PPS has been involved in a no-holds-barred approach to negotiations regarding moving to Hybrid education since its first announcement.  In spite of the District’s claims of “we hope for collaboration,” it is clear that the District was planning on a PAT-capitulation approach.  Nonetheless, PAT has forced the District to address two of PAT members’ major concerns, regarding ventilation and cohort size:

 

1.  PAT has been able to move the District to recognize that the ventilation systems in PPS buildings do not provide for educator or student safety during a pandemic. Originally, PPS informed PAT that it was doing a “what the building can accommodate” method of providing for indoor air quality.  When your PAT Team pushed back, PPS agreed that it would review the issue.  The next PPS negotiations statement was that the District was working to replace all filters and repair dampers to increase outdoor air supply to rooms, and having done so, had met all their regulatory requirements for air quality.  Your PAT Team again pushed back showing the District that its second shot at addressing this issue didn’t match reasonable safety guidelines.   

 

Yesterday, PPS informed PAT that it was/is purchasing a HEPA-certified, appropriately sized air purification device for each student-occupied building space.  So far, PPS already has 500 filters on hand, and the District is awaiting more than 1,000 more.  In addition, there are over 1,000 additional filters that have been ordered and will be in-district prior to the opening of in-person activities.  HEPA-certified filtration meets or exceeds MERV 16 filters, and that means that indoor air quality, when combined with distancing, masking, and the other HVAC improvements described by the District, will make for a safe classroom environment.

 

2.  Not only has PPS recognized its responsibility to provide safety with air purification, but yesterday PPS accepted the PAT proposal that student cohorts should be determined not by a “one-size-fits-all” approach, but by safe social distancing standards determined by each room. 

 

The social distancing and air quality victories means that your Team may, for the first time, begin to see a way to move towards a vision of some form of Hybrid instruction becoming a reality.  We have always known that members long to work with their students in person, but that many members were rightfully concerned about personal, family, student, and student-family safety.  Yesterday’s successes, combined with the improving public health metrics, mean that we may have a way to reach those goals. 

 

We know from our surveys that the vast majority of PAT members are opposed to the “simulcast” model of instruction.  Your Team does not plan to propose what model in-person education should take, and we don’t know what model our professional educators believe is best.

 

At the same time, we know that there are some demands for working conditions that are set in stone, regardless of the Hybrid model:

  • We know that educators need significant individual-planning time.  
  • We know that educators need to have time to function as teachers and not as cleaning crew or IT/Tech support.  
  • We know that the District must make accommodations for individuals who have personal or family health issues.  
  • We know that there are significant logistical and practical issues to consider in making a transition to partial in-person teaching.  
  • Finally, we know that many members have their own children who may not be returning to in-person school and will therefore need supports.

 

For all these issues, your Bargaining Team will continue to set guardrails to ensure that any model the District selects will address what we need to be able to do our jobs.

 

We will be reaching out to you in the coming weeks to learn more about your priorities for the spring.  Once we have that information, we will present new proposals to the District.

 

It is through your insight and solidarity that your Team is able to move all of our needs forward.  Your Team is grateful for the support expressed to us and we count on that support moving forward.  Together we will fight for an educational model that works for students and educators in PPS in spite of COVID-19. 

 

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