OEA Event: New Educator Toolbelt Series: Student Debt Relief

October 21, 2021 · 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM

OEA's Building the New Educator Toolbelt Series will provide an opportunity for early career Oregon educators to join in lively collaboration each month to explore the most timely and important issues facing you and our students.

In this session, learn your options as an educator for student loan forgiveness and explore NEA resources to help you navigate the application process.

Register Today

Rally to Support OFNHP Kaiser Permanente Workers

Please come out on Tuesday to support Kaiser Permanente Healthcare workers fighting for safe staffing levels and fair wages. Wear you PAT BLUE to show our union support.

Rally to Support OFNHP Kaiser Permanente Workers

September 28th, 6 – 7:30 pm

Kaiser Permanente Building (500 NE Multnomah St, Portland)

Facebook event: Click here

More about the struggle:

Like educators who advocate for students, healthcare workers are patient defenders. Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professional members are the frontline to ensure our community gets the healthcare it needs to stay healthy. The frontline healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente are fighting for safe staffing levels and wages to attract and retain workers.

When our community wins great staffing and conditions that retain experienced staff, we save lives. In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, we need this more than ever, and we also need the voices of both patients, union members, and care providers.

Join the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals at 6:00 pm on September 28th at the Kaiser Permanente Building (500 NE Multnomah St, Portland) to raise the voices of both frontline healthcare workers and community members who are fighting for healthcare justice. We will be showing our support for safe staffing, a fair union contract, and a voice for both patients and care workers. Union nurses and health professionals will speak out as well as labor leaders, community organizations, clergy, and patients.

Here are a few links with some additional information:

Register Today: Northwest Teaching for Social Justice Conference

PAT is once again excited to sponsor the Northwest Teaching For Social Justice Conference! The annual gathering of conversation, idea-sharing, and inspiration is just a few weeks away.

Join us ONLINE on Saturday, October 23, 2021.  The cost is just $10 — $5 for students.

Register Now

The keynote talk this year is Dr. Bettina Love,  an award-winning author, co-founder of the Abolitionist Teaching Network (ATN), and the Athletic Association Endowed Professor at the University of Georgia. Her books include We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and The Pursuit of Educational Freedom and Hip Hop’s Li’l Sistas Speak: Negotiating Hip Hop Identities and Politics in the New South.

In addition, there are dozens of educator-led workshops lined up in 2 sessions. See the full program at www.nwtsj.org.

We hope you can make it!

NEW Educator Empowerment Grant Opportunity

OEA is taking applications for a *new* grant opportunity. Education Empowerment grants are awarded to help local associations engage members around important issues that impact teaching and learning. The grant may be used to support professional learning and/or to enhance and improve professional practice in a specific area. This grant should focus on solving an issue that will create a lasting impact on professional practice in a local. It is not meant to be used to purchase consumable materials and/or classroom supplies.


  • Any local Oregon Education Association member is eligible to apply for a grant during the grant cycle to be used to support professional practice.
  • Grant applicants must have communicated their intent to apply to their local association President.
  • Grants must relate to engaging members on professional practice issues and should not be used for consumable materials and/or classroom supplies.
  • Grant applications must be received by October 15, 2021 for review and consideration.
  • Grant requests should correspond with the local association and/or school district’s mission/vision/goals.
  • Grant awards from $1000 - $5000


  • All applications are due October 15, 2021.
  • All projects must be completed by June 15, 2022.
  • All grant final reports are due by June 30, 2022.

Please review the application here to see specific questions and information requested. If you would like to apply, please contact PAT President Elizabeth Thiel ([email protected]) to set up a time to discuss your proposed application.

OEA Promising Practice Grant

Apply for and OEA Promising Practice Grant

Every year, OEA gives Promising Practice Grants to educators to support student learning and professional development for OEA members across Oregon. This year, there is $2,000 available for grants to PAT members. Members may apply for grant funds up to $1,000.

Grants can be used to fund projects or materials that support improved student achievement. The application is fully online this year and available here

Some examples of past projects funded by the Promising Practice Grant are:

  • A library of books with QR codes attached that link to a video of the book being read in ASL for families of students who are deaf and hard of hearing.
  • Supporting Latinx students through a MECHA conference.
  • Books for classroom libraries featuring main characters who are People of Color so that students see themselves in literature.


  • November 1, 2021 - Applications due. No late applications will be accepted.
  • December 1, 2021 - PAT IPD Committee will review grant applications from our Council members.
  • December 10, 2021 - Final decisions communicated to applicants
  • December 13 - 17, 2021 - Grants for those awarded will be processed and distributed by OEA
  • June 30, 2022 - Final grant summary due to OEA Center for Great Public Schools


In the event that, among qualifying grant applications, there are more funds requested than are available, IPD Committee will prioritize grant requests that fulfill the following criteria:

  • Grant applicant is a first time applicant
  • Project or idea which serves a historically underserved population
  • Project or idea which serve large numbers of students
  • Grant applicant is an early-career educator

Upcoming Building Rep Trainings

While we recognize the unique and challenging circumstance educators confronted last week as we returned to our schools, we hope the first week of school went well for you all. 

We are super excited to share with you the fall 2021 PAT Building Rep training calendar. If you are a brand new Rep, we encourage you to attend one of the Rep Fundamentals #1 trainings being offered coming up:

  • Thursday, October 21st 4:30-6:30 PM
  • Saturday, November 6th 9:00 AM-3:00 PM
  • Thursday, November 18th 4:30-6:30 PM
  • Thursday, December 2nd 4:30-6:30 PM

Please RSVP here for one of these sessions. (At the same link, you can register for other trainings coming up this fall and winter.)

We are calling these “Rep Fundamentals” not because they offer material that is basic, but because they review skills and knowledge that is most important for being a great Building Rep.

In addition to 4 distinct modules for Rep Fundamentals, we are thrilled to be offering a 5-part training series on Racial Justice for PAT Building Reps, specially designed for PAT by the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center (LERC) in collaboration with members of last year’s PAT Advocacy Cadre. You can register and read more about these workshops here

Our hope is that Reps will cycle through all of the classes on Rep Fundamentals and Racial Justice for Reps over the course of the school year. 

And for you more seasoned Reps, PAT will be offering training on advanced topics for Reps throughout the year. These advanced trainings are still in the process of being developed so please keep an eye out for updates. 

In Solidarity,

Portland Association of Teachers

Previous trainings:

  • Saturday, September 11th from 10:00 AM  to noon
  • Thursday, September 16th from 4:30 to 6:30 PM
  • Saturday, September 25th 10 AM to noon 
  • Thursday, October 7th 4:30-6:30 PM
  • **Postponed** Saturday, October 16th 9:00 AM-3:00 PM 

Interested in Joining the PAT Bargaining Committee?

PAT’s Bargaining Committee is both different from and crucial to our PAT Bargaining Team. Under PAT Bylaws, the Bargaining Committee "shall assist the collective bargaining teams in research and the development of the Association’s proposals under guidelines established by the Executive Board" (Bylaws, ARTICLE 10, Section 3). The Committee does the leg work to help us be more informed, efficient and effective during bargaining.

We are currently seeking new members for the Bargaining Committee. We are looking for a racially diverse group of members who also hold a diverse array of positions within the district. The more perspectives we add to the table, the better solutions we can find. Space will be limited to ensure no one position or community is given undue representation.

If you are interested, please fill out this Bargaining Committee Interest Form.

Heritage Months: Help Us Celebrate

We are excited again this year to organize around different diversity months that represent the uniqueness of our students, educators and communities , as part of the work of our Social Justice and Community Outreach Committee and partnership with the Racial Equity Committee. 

We are continuing our work with the 4 heritage months below, and adding 2 more to celebrate Diversity Months throughout the year.

  • Latinx/Chicanx/Hispanic Month (September/October)
  • LGBTQIA+ Month (October)
  • Indigenous/Native American Month (November)
  • Black Lives Matter Week of Action/Black History Month (February)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander Month (May)
  • Disability Pride Month (June/July)

We are seeking educators who want to help in the planning of these months. We will give priority to educators who represent each month for the planning teams. We will also try to make teams that represent all grade levels as much as possible. We will send an email a month or two prior to the month to begin planning. 

Sign up here if you are interested in helping plan any of these months. Please email Alisha Chavez ([email protected]) and Julie Whitaker ([email protected]) if you have any questions. 

Find more information on all our heritage months on our Social Justice/Community Outreach page.

Portland Association of Teachers


September 23rd 4-5PM, OEA New Educator Series Continues: Building Classroom Community

September 23, 2021 · 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM, Virtual Webinar

OEA's Building the New Educator Toolbelt Series will provide an opportunity for early career Oregon educators to join in lively collaboration each month to explore the most timely and important issues facing you and our students.

Session description: Many students in Oregon from early childhood through college will return to in-person instruction this fall for the first time in more than one year. Building a strong community for students early in the school year is a key trauma informed practice and a key social and emotional learning competency. We know that when students feel part of a healthy community, they are more ready to learn and succeed academically. This session will focus on strategies all school staff, PreK – community college can use throughout the year to build strong community routines.

Register Today

Download the Series Flyer


President's Message: What We Need for a Safe and Stable School Year

Dear Educator,

As we begin another school year in the grip of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the dedication, creativity, and professionalism of educators in our public schools has never been more apparent. 

Last week, the joy of finally being in-person with students, and seeing them interact with one another and with the adults in the school community, was overwhelming. Perhaps equally overwhelming has been the anxiety of returning to school while Oregon is experiencing a record surge in COVID-19 cases. The ever-shifting guidance from public health authorities and the state has left us all with so many unanswered questions.

The most important educational issue continues to be the safety of our students, our community, and our colleagues. That is why it is so important that we use every tool available to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our classroom and our schools.

Today, all PAT members are invited to an All-PAT Member Meeting to learn about our Tentative COVID-19 Safety Agreement for this school year. Our bargaining team worked throughout August to defend and strengthen the COVID-19 safety agreements we won last spring. 

Please read the Tentative Agreement for the COVID-19 Safety Letter of Agreement (LOA), attend the meeting, and then vote.

A ballot will be coming to your PPS email about 5:30 PM today. The PPS school board will be voting on whether to ratify this agreement at their September 14th meeting. Our COVID-19 Safety LOA for the 2021-2022 school year only goes into effect if it’s ratified by our membership and the PPS School Board.

Having a safety agreement in place is a crucial step in creating COVID-safe schools. We also need members in every building to be united in enforcing these agreements. That includes making sure adults and students are wearing masks consistently and correctly, using the HEPA filters in every space, and modeling and reinforcing social distancing. 

It also includes working with your elected PAT Building Representatives and your site’s COVID-19 Safety Committee to ensure that all our agreements and all the safety-protocols are in place at your school.

We believe that our Tentative Agreement creates the safest in-person learning environments possible, given the conditions we are facing. We also know that many of the problems we are currently facing would be much easier to solve if we weren’t living with decades of disinvestment in our schools. 

For years, we have been advocating for smaller class sizes, safe school buildings, and social-emotional support for our students. We need these basic supports now more than ever.

We know when we are united, we have the power to make things better for our students and for the future of our schools. Let’s start by making our buildings as safe as possible, and vigorously enforce our COVID-19 safety standards.

In Solidarity,


Elizabeth Thiel

PAT President



Know Your Contract: Moving Classrooms After the Start of the Year

This fall, some educators may have been asked to switch rooms in order to accommodate physical distancing for students. If you have been asked to move classrooms, Article 19 Contract language applies:

19.3.3 Administrator-directed moves that occur after the school year has started, or if the professional educator is directed to move classrooms two school years in a row, shall be compensated by the District for each hour worked: 

a. Up to four (4) hours to pack and move personally-owned materials; and 

b. Up to an additional four (4) hours to move and unpack materials in the new classroom.

Know Your Contract: Upcoming Deadlines

The PAT Advocacy Committee would like to highlight several important dates that are quickly approaching:

  • October 31-   Proof of Coursework-  Art. “In order to receive a salary adjustment retroactive to the beginning of the current school year, a professional educator must, by October 31st, provide the Human Resources Department with proof of completion of coursework.”
  • 60 days from start of employment-   Proof of Experience Credit-  Art.  “Such salary adjustments [based on previous experience] will not be retroactive, except that experience verified within sixty (60) days of the start of employment shall be retroactive to the first day of employment.”
  • 2nd Monday in October (October 11)-   Study Leave – Spring Semester-   Art.  “Such applications for study leave for spring semester must be filed by the second Monday in October preceding the spring semester.”

You find the complete contract on our website.

COVID-19 Safety Committees

Similar to last year, each and every school or site should have a Safety Committee that includes 1 or 2 PAT members, selected by the PAT-represented staff at your site. The PAT bargaining team made sure that the language on Safety Committees was updated and renewed in the Tentative COVID-19 Safety Agreement that members will be voting on this week. If your staff has not already done so, please select 2 PAT members to serve on this important committee. 

These committees are standing bodies of the building, but are specifically focused on identifying and resolving any problems pertaining to COVID-19 safety protocols and process, as enshrined in the PAT-PPS COVID-19 Safety LOA and all of the policies/standard operating procedures that the District has developed to keep students and staff safe. 

Each Safety Committee should be touring the building to inspect each space where instruction and support with students will be provided. If you are on the Safety Committee, please make sure your colleagues know that you are serving in this role and work with PAT Building Reps if you need support in getting your administrator to resolve any safety problems or violations of the COVID-19 Safety LOA pertaining to safety. 

And for all other educators, make sure you know who is on your building’s Safety Committee so that you can go to them if you have any issues or problems pertaining to safety, at least to identify the issue so they can work on getting it resolved. 

Safety Committees should have completed a walkthrough of your site by September 7, 2021, using this document to guide their inspection. (Please make a copy of the document for your own use.) Please make sure to review and use this document on your walkthrough and as an overall guide. 

Lastly, you can find helpful resources for the Safety Committee here on the PAT’s website. Please also review PPS’s Q & A document on Health and Safety

COVID-19 Screening Testing for Oregon Educators

Oregon Health Authority offers free COVID-19 testing for K-12 staff in order to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools. This project offers free weekly screening testing by mail to any public or private K-12 staff. 

Sign up here for this OHA program.

The OHA site says that screening is not recommended for vaccinated K-12 staff because the risk of COVID-19 in vaccinated individuals is very low. However, the sign up form does not ask for your vaccination status. 

Participation is voluntary, and K-12 staff can opt-out at any time. All testing will be mailed directly to the homes of K-12 staff and will be confidential. The COVID-19 test will be performed at home by gently swabbing just inside the nose. The swab is then returned to the laboratory by mail and results are returned to participants within days.

To participate in this staff screening project, please complete the enrollment form above. Following enrollment, you will be sent an email by an OHA laboratory partner to complete the registration process.

This testing will be offered through the end of the 2021-2022 academic year or until funding is exhausted.

Learn more here.

Upcoming Events

Rep Assembly and Committee Meetings

  • September 8th, 4:30-5:30 PM, Rep Assembly
  • September 8th, 5:30 PM-7:00PM All Member Meeting

  • September 15th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Bargaining Committee
  • September 15th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Instructional and Professional Development Committee

  • September 22nd, 4:30-6:30 PM: Legislative Committee
  • September 22nd, 4:30-6:30 PM: Membership Committee
  • September 22nd, 4:30-6:30 PM: Racial Equity Committee

  • September 29th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Advocacy Committee
  • September 29th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Social Justice/Community Outreach Committee
  • September 29th, 4:30-6:30 PM: Substitute Committee

All PAT committee meetings will be held virtually on Zoom for the time being. Please register here to get a meeting link.

For all upcoming events, please see the PAT calendar and OEA calendar.


September 29th 4-5PM, OEA Welcome Back Webinar: Connection Before Curriculum: Teaching in a Post Pandemic World

OEA Welcome Back Webinar Series Continues:


Wednesday, September 29th, 4:00-5:00 PM 


Student engagement remains a top priority for educators as we welcome students back into the traditional classroom. Educators will use this session to develop or improve on SEL and safe space practices. With an emphasis on communication and practices building empathy, participants will work to improve their EQ within themselves and within their instructional practice. Building relationships and making connections is critical in these unprecedented times, and by doing so we can increase student engagement in rigorous curricular lessons. This webinar leverages breakout rooms and digital collaboration for an interactive experience. Click here to register! 


Please visit OEA's website for more information.


Did you miss a webinar? No problem. Access the OEA Grow EdCommunity Archive and earn 1 PDU credit for each webinar watched. This archive is password protected and only available to OEA members. If you have trouble creating a login, please e-mail [email protected]


See the link for the full catalog of Fall 2021 OEA Professional Learning Opportunities

Tentative Agreement Reached on Safety

Dear Educator,

On the eve of the first day of school for our students, we are writing to give you the latest update on our safety agreements for this fall. First, I want to acknowledge the enormous challenge that educators are all facing as we are tasked with doing the impossible -- to open our schools safely, at full capacity, during the height of a global pandemic. 

As you know, PAT has been working throughout August to secure additional safety measures for the start of the school year. While PPS hoped to start the year without any safety agreements besides those contained in our regular contract, this was a non-starter for PAT. On August 6, we informed the District that our Spring 2021 Safety Letter of Agreement (LOA) would remain in effect unless they met with us to update it, and the District agreed. 

Our aim has been to maintain the strong safety and mitigation measures we fought for and won last spring, to update the agreement to comply with current state mandates, and to implement new recommendations from ODE and the CDC.

The process was not as quick as we hoped, but your PAT bargaining team has been working throughout the last 3 weeks to secure updated language and keep our classrooms safe.

Tonight, around 9 pm, we reached a tentative safety agreement for the school year.

While there is no agreement that can alleviate the stress, chaos, and uncertainty of opening schools in-person during the worst moment of the pandemic in Oregon, we believe that we were able to secure safety terms that make in-person instruction possible under these admittedly difficult conditions.   

Many of you have been writing to the School Board and District leaders to amplify our demands for specific mitigations for any classroom that is not able to maintain 3 feet of distance, ensuring that the District accommodate all students who signed up for the Online Learning Academy, and creating remote positions for educators who are medically unable to be vaccinated. Your advocacy and organizing made a huge difference.

The Tentative Updated LOA maintains much of what we fought for in the spring including:

  • HEPA filters in every space where educators meet with students
  • Masking for all students and educators unless there is a documented exemption
  • Remote assignments prioritized for educators who are unable to be vaccinated due to medical condition
  • Notifying professional educators and the wider community of any COVID infection in the building
  • Safety Committees at every school
  • No educator can be directed to teach remotely and in person at the same time

The updated agreement also includes new provisions, some of which have already been put in place:

  • Re-opening registration for OLA (with over 20 additional remote educator positions to accommodate students who signed up)
  • Educators re-assigned to OLA may return to their original assignment
  • Creating new remote positions to assist students who must work remotely. 
  • Implementing the OHA Covid Asymptomatic Screening testing program
  • KN95 masks available to any educator who requests one

Physical Distancing

Physical Distance requirements have remained a sticking point to the end. We wanted to get a guaranteed minimum of at least 3 feet per student, instead of the ODE recommendation of “3 feet whenever possible.” 

Over the last few weeks, it has become clear that because of the size and number of our classrooms, the number of students in some grades and some schools, and the state mandate that physical distancing not preclude full-day in-person instruction for all students, there was not a path to achieving this goal before students returned.

The reality is that not all our classrooms will be able to maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance per student. However, we have insisted on clear mitigation measures and full transparency for educators, students, and parents in every classroom where it is not possible. We have also secured a guarantee that neither medically fragile educators nor students who cannot wear masks will be placed in classrooms with less than 3 feet of physical distance.

For classrooms that do not meet a 3 feet physical distance minimum, the District is required to explore ways to create more usable classroom space, such as by removing furniture or switching rooms. And in cases where this is not possible, the District must notify families and implement enhanced safety requirements such as doubling the number of HEPA purifiers and measuring the air exchanges in affected classrooms.  

The District is also required to enter into talks about COVID-related working conditions. We know there are a large number of issues  we need to address with the District, including how students in quarantine will be supported.  

Next Steps

Although we consider this an update to our already-ratified agreement from the spring, we know these changes are significant. We will bring these new terms to the full membership for a ratification vote. More information, including the actual updated Letter of Agreement and a ratification timeline, will be coming soon. 

In the meantime, please proceed as if these agreements are IN PLACE, including making sure your Safety Committee is up and running.


In Solidarity,

Elizabeth Thiel, PAT President, and the PAT Bargaining Team

October 27th 4-5PM, OEA Welcome Back Webinar: Self-Care: How to Address and Survive the Daily Life Stressors

OEA Welcome Back Webinar Series Continues:


Wednesday, October 27, 4:00-5:00 PM


Self-care is often the first thing that gets ignored when life becomes stressful. Taking care of yourself will help you to better care for your students. This webinar will help you define and better understand the importance of self-care and become a self-care advocate for yourself and others. Click here to register!


Please visit OEA's website for more information.


Did you miss a webinar? No problem. Access the OEA Grow EdCommunity Archive and earn 1 PDU credit for each webinar watched. This archive is password protected and only available to members. If you have trouble creating a login, please e-mail [email protected]


See the link for the full catalog of Fall 2021 OEA Professional Learning Opportunities



President's Message: Safety Updates

Dear Educator,

Once again, we are heading into an unprecedented school year. Despite our hopes and expectations that the worst of the COVID pandemic would be behind us by now, the Delta variant has upended everything in a matter of weeks. 

There is nothing we want more than a safe return to in-person instruction—we have been looking forward to it for almost a year and a half. But for the students we teach, their families, and all of our fellow PAT members, we have to get it right. 

Of course, many of the problems we are currently facing would be much easier to solve if we weren’t living with decades of disinvestment in our schools. For years, we have been advocating for smaller class sizes, safe school buildings, and social-emotional support for our students. We need these basic supports now more than ever.

Over the last month, the impact of the Delta variant has become undeniable. During this time, your PAT officers, bargaining team members, and staff have been working hard to ensure that we have strong safety agreements in place before the start of school. 

Here are some of the steps we have taken to maintain and to build on the agreements we made last spring:

  1.   On August 6, we notified PPS that if we do not update our standing agreement, our Spring 2021 Safety Letter of Agreement (LOA) will remain in effect.   
  2. Over the last two weeks, we surveyed all our members to identify the protections that are most important to PAT members, as well as gauge support for other safety measures that are recommended by the CDC or ODE. (More below on the PAT Survey results)
  3. We organized listening sessions with PAT members and PPS School Board directors so our elected leaders could hear firsthand what it will take to make this fall safe and successful.
  4. Based on member survey data, we have been in discussions with PPS about updating our existing LOA to preserve the safety measures we fought so hard for last year, as well as to incorporate new guidance and recommendations from the ODE and CDC.

One important update is the standard for social distancing. Last spring, we agreed that we would have 6 feet of physical distance per person in each PPS classroom. That standard is no longer supported by the CDC or state guidelines, both of which recommend 3 feet of physical distance where possible. 

Our PAT team has been clear that, in addition to maintaining previously agreed-upon safety standards such as universal mask wearing, testing and tracing, and adequate ventilation, our updated agreement must include the following:

  • Assurance of a minimum of 3 feet per person, rather than the looser standard of 3 feet “whenever possible”.  
  • That PPS open an online learning option to all students who want it.
  • That virtual positions go to educators who need a medical accommodation to teach virtually.  

By agreeing to those three conditions, as well as maintaining other safety standards from the spring, PPS would take a giant step toward ensuring safety and stability for students and staff in each building.  

Our hope is to come to a written agreement about these updates BEFORE students start school, and we will let you know as soon as we reach a deal with the District. At that point we will immediately implement a plan to explain the changes, answer questions, and support members and reps to enforce it. 

However, as of this evening, we do not have that written agreement. I will be addressing the school board tonight to publicly present PAT’s priorities for starting this year off right. (The school board meeting will begin at 6:00pm tonight- click here to watch.)

In order to secure a written agreement this week, our next steps may include taking legal action, which is likely to be a lengthy process, and organizing this week with fellow educators, parents, and community members to put pressure on the District, while we continue our talks. 

We know that there are MANY unanswered questions about how our schools will meet all of the recommended safety measures, including physical distancing, given the size of classroom spaces and the state of our buildings. However, we cannot continue to  treat teachers as the shock absorbers for a school system struggling to address a pandemic. That is not fair to our students, our communities, or to the educators who’ve been through so much during this pandemic. 

What is certain is that every safety measure we put in place now will help prevent disruptions all year long. We get one chance to reopen schools this year, and we have to do everything in our power to get it right. District leaders must have the courage to join together with teachers and families and do whatever it takes to ensure safety, stability, and equity for all students in this new school year. And we owe it to our communities to do everything we can on the front end to keep students safe before welcoming them back into our schools.  

In Solidarity,


Elizabeth Thiel

PAT President


PAT COVID-19 Safety Survey Results

Last week, over 2,300 PAT members took our COVID safety survey to help guide our work updating our Spring 2021 Letter of Agreement (LOA) on COVID safety and working conditions.

The results reveal a high level of unity around what we need to keep our students safe and maintain in-person instruction during this stage of the pandemic. You can see the complete results here.

Here are some of PAT’s highest priorities, based on your feedback:

More than 80% Strongly Support the following: 

  • Time to transition to Hybrid or CDL if conditions warrant it
  • Rapid symptomatic and screening COVID testing
  • HEPA air filters in all rooms
  • All students and staff wear masks
  • COVID outbreak notification 
  • A way to isolate without loss of pay

Additionally, more than 70% Strongly Support these protections: 

  • Protection against simultaneous online and in-person instruction
  •  Protection for distance protocols in all spaces
  • KN-95 masks for educators when students cannot wear masks
  • Online positions for educators who can’t work in-person,
  • Vaccine and testing clinics for schools that need them most
  •  Outdoors Student mask breaks 
  •  Vaccine mandate for students

Much appreciation to all of you who helped define our collective priorities by taking the survey. We are fighting hard for these additional protections as we discuss updating our COVID Safety LOA with the District. We are also using your feedback to advocate with the ODE, OHA, and local and state leaders for stronger protections for our students and school communities. 

What is Changing with Cigna? Update from the Health and Welfare Trust

Many of you have noticed a shift in the company that administers health insurance claims for the School District No. 1 Health and Welfare Trust. This fall, claims processing will shift from Providence and Regence to Cigna. The Kaiser “plan” is still administered by Kaiser. Understandably, some of you are worried about what that might mean for you. 

Our PAT/PPS CBA does not allow the Trust to change any benefit levels (unless required by law). The “maintenance of benefits” clause in Article 13 and in Appendix E bar the plan from any possible changes. 

This means that shifting administration to Cigna will not alter the terms of your medical plan. All of your benefits from last year are exactly the same under Cigna. This isn’t simply because of the maintenance of benefit clauses in our contract. The other reason is that, because of how the Trust works, PAT members don’t have a Providence or Regence “plan;” these insurance companies simply process claims which are paid directly by our Health and Welfare Trust, a process known as self-funding. Cigna is now taking over the claims-processing function that was being carried out by Providence and Regence.

If you have a doctor who does not currently work with Cigna, the Trust will work with your provider to find ways to ensure your claims can get processed. Keep in mind that since you don’t really have a Cigna “plan”, the in-network doctors on the Cigna website don’t represent the providers who are in the Trust’s network. 

More information about the change to Cigna will come from the Trust over the next few months.  Look for those emails and mailings so you stay fully informed. 

If you’re interested in more details on how the Trust operates, keep reading.

Understanding How Our Health and Welfare Trust Operates

The Trust is a formal partnership, separate from PPS, PAT, PFSP, DCU or ATU (the organizations who participate in it). As an independent legal entity, the Trust works to meet the needs of the members represented by the participating unions, all of whom are (or were) employed by PPS. It is required to follow the terms of the individual collective bargaining agreements of each participating union, and is governed by its own Trust Bylaws, as well as by federal and state insurance, tax, and other laws.  Trustees from each participating organization oversee the financial well-being of the Trust’s plans, so that members receive the highest level of benefit at the lowest cost.

Our Trust has been in existence for over forty years.  Over time, the Trust decided that for the benefit of members, the Trust would be primarily self-funded. That means that the Trust no longer purchases insurance plans to offer members. Instead, the Trust itself pays each insurance claim made by any covered member or their dependents.  By doing this, any employer contributions or individual premiums not directly used to pay a claim can be invested, and the profits from those investments used to reduce the cost of next year’s insurance premiums. 

With over 9,000 people covered by the Trust, there are so many claims each year that it is necessary to hire an insurance company (sometimes more than one) to simply process these claims. Insurance companies are willing to sell this service to the Trust because they get a very small fee with zero risk, since the Trust is paying the costs of each claim. 

After Providence and Regence refused to reduce their administrative fees for next year, the Trust put the job of administering its claims out for an open bid.  After many meetings, and presentations from many different insurance companies, the Trust selected Cigna as our new claims processor.

Over the years, this system of self-funded insurance has provided PAT members with the most stable benefits at the lowest costs of any school system in Oregon. In fact, many times over the years the Trust has been required by OEBB to prove that our benefits were better than the OEBB plans at a comparable or a lower cost. If the Trust failed to meet this standard, the State would have required the Trust to dissolve and PAT members would have had to become part of OEBB. Thankfully, the Trust has performed so well that we have always been able to meet the State’s test, and we continue to enjoy some of the most comprehensive, lowest-cost benefits in the state.

PAT Advocacy Cadre: Member-to-Member Support for Your Contract Questions

We will have our first Advocacy Cadre Hotline of the academic school year on August 30th, 2021. The Advocacy Cadre is a group of member-educators who will work closely with the UniServ Consultants to become experts on our contracts, and to support members who need help navigating the specific language contained in our union contracts. 

Prior to contacting the Cadre Hotline, members should first speak with their building representative. 

PAT Advocacy Cadre Hotline Hours: Mondays, 5:00-6:30 PM 

Zoom Drop-In

Email: [email protected]

You can send an e-mail to the cadre at any time, but they will only be responding during Monday hotline hours. If you have an issue that requires more immediate attention please first contact your building representative or your UniServ Consultant.

This program is designed to expand our contract advocacy and provide the tools and education members need to feel empowered to enforce their contractual rights in their buildings.