Substitute Update- August 12, 2020

Dear PAT Substitute Educator Colleagues:

COVID-19 has created a great deal of hardships for you and so many others, and your PAT union continues to be here fighting for you.

In May of 2020, when PPS announced that it was refusing to continue to pay substitute educators, PAT began to examine potential legal responses to the unilateral action that PPS had taken.  Working with an OEA attorney, on July 29th, 2020, PAT filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) complaint against Portland Public Schools with Oregon Employment Relations Board (E.R.B).  

Our ULP against PPS contends that PPS violated the Oregon Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act when:

  • PPS refused to sign any agreement related to substitute working conditions about the COVID-19 shutdown
  • PPS shut off AESOP, denying substitute educators the possibility to work
  • PPS failed to follow the Governor’s order to continue to pay public school employees

In addition to those violations, PPS has notified us that they will not discuss substitute insurance eligibility for next year, while at the same time contending that the average days worked payments don’t count towards substitute insurance eligibility.

In an attempt to settle the issues as quickly as possible, PAT has agreed to a settlement conference with attorneys hired by PPS.  The date for that settlement meeting should be in the next two weeks, and if a settlement can’t be reached, PAT is requesting an expedited hearing before the Oregon E.R.B.  

We are saddened and shocked that PPS would treat substitute educators so poorly.  PAT consistently points out how important you are to the students who attend PPS and to the educators in the regular PAT unit.  Unfortunately, PPS has decided that substitutes are an expendable commodity, even though there is a substitute shortage in Oregon and Washington; they know full well that Beaverton Public Schools and Vancouver, WA schools are looking to hire substitutes.  In fact, PPS would rather pay an outside legal firm to keep substitutes from insurance and income rather than do what is required by Oregon law, the Governor’s order, and the two PAT contracts.  

What does all of this mean for you?

First, we are unable to tell you how many days will be required for substitute insurance eligibility.  Even though PPS at one time offered 51 days for eligibility, and would not let you work to earn insurance, PPS is currently contending that substitute educators must have worked 70 or more days in 2019-2020.  That unconscionable position is part of the settlement discussion, and we hope to be able to offer good news to all of you in the near future.

Secondly, we know how difficult it was for almost all of you to obtain unemployment benefits and that the cut-off of average pay in June was extremely harmful to our PAT substitute members.  PAT and PPS will discuss substitute pay for June when we are in our settlement meeting.  Like the issue of insurance, we are hoping for a positive outcome.

Finally, we are demanding that PPS reopen the AESOP system and that PPS provide substitute educators training on distance learning technology so that you can properly continue serving the students in PPS, and continue your support of your regularly employed PAT colleagues.  

Yours in Solidarity – 

Portland Association of Teachers