President’s Message: Working without a Contract

Welcome Back Educators!

Wow, what a start to the school year! Educators are working hard to prepare for students this year, despite numerous required days out of your buildings for district level training. Your time is valuable, so I will try to keep this message as brief as possible. 

Thank you for coming back. You could have chosen to teach anywhere else but you came back to our Portland students and community, and we appreciate you. Your Bargaining team will continue to fight for your future, your reps will support you in the present, and our Contract Action Team will help you find ways to join the actions we will hold until we win a strong contract!

Union Power = People Power

I don’t know about y’all, but everywhere I turn I see more and more workers coming together to build unions and fight for dignity in the workplace! Last year at this time I shared that we were at the cusp of a movement: Striking nurses under Kaiser in California, possible railworker’s strike, a recently ended strike in Seattle. I guess other folks heard about it too, as we had a 96% sign up rate for educators new to PPS this year!

Since then, the movement has only grown. We see Evergreen, Camas, and Battle Ground districts in Washington are heading towards a strike this week. There are at least a dozen other worker groups building to strike before our legal timeline in Portland ALONE.

But why prepare for a strike if we want to settle a strong contract? As Fredrick Douglass said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” When we show that we are ready to use the strongest tool in our toolbox, we create clear expectations for the district management: IF you think 3% is an adequate Cost of Living Adjustment, THEN we have the right to convince you otherwise. IF you don’t believe the PAT President when they share that folks don’t like working for PPS, THEN workers will make sure you hear from them directly. 

In pre-mediation, I made it very clear to our state mediator and PPS’ Lawyer and bargaining chair: Unless we have SIGNIFICANT gains on COLA, Planning Time, Class Size/Caseload Caps, & Safe and Healthy Schools, we cannot get the membership to pass the deal. In the end, our members decide if PPS’ offers of 3% COLA, 40 more minutes of planning for Elementary only, and no class size caps at all is good enough. I warned management, as Steve Lancaster has warned them at the table several times, we will not accept the status quo.

We will get more educators into our profession by making sure we have livable wages, sustainable caseloads, safe working conditions, support for all students regardless of need, and are being treated like the trained professionals we are. The only way to make that happen is when we UNITE, when we ORGANIZE. The future of Public Education depends on it.


The Advocate is Portland Association of Teachers’ Bi-Monthly(ish) newsletter, keeping you up to date on what your union is doing for you, for our students, our community, and the greater good.

Please keep yourselves informed and up to date by checking out The Advocate,, @pdxteachers on Twitter (or X?!), Instagram, and our public Facebook page, Portland Association of Teachers

Support PAT

Are you interested in supporting our PAT communications team? We can’t compete with PPS’ ~$80k, but we have bubbly water! We are also getting support from NEA’s Communications team on training! Interested? Let us know HERE.

Solidarity Forever

ADVOCACY CADRE IS BACK! We will share more details about our new hotline structures soon after our one year hiatus. We had a ton of awesome candidates and look forward to introducing you all to them soon!

Lastly, there are and will be a ton of rumors floating around about a possible strike and other topics concerning our bargaining timelines. Just keep in mind: If it’s not from PAT, forget about that! You will all be the first to know if we are going on strike. Check in with your reps and CAT members for official information.

In Solidarity,

Angela Bonilla
President, Portland Association of Teachers

Join a PAT Committee

Much of the union’s work is accomplished by PAT members serving on committees, benefiting all our colleagues and every Portland student. We would love to have you join us on a committee that interests you!

Committees meet semi-monthly at PAT (345 NE 8th) from 4:30 – 6:30 PM, and we provide dinner. Upcoming dates are listed below. If you are interested in joining a committee, please fill out this interest form and we will put you on the right mailing lists!

  • Social Justice and Community Outreach (SJCO) Committee members strengthen ties with other labor and community organizations and conduct open forums on topics like Special Education, Immigration Rights, and Climate Justice. Next meeting: September 13th

  • Racial Equity Committee is composed of educators of color whose goal is to build organizational capacity within PAT to honor, acknowledge, and center the lived experiences and stories of educators, along with students of color, within our union and inside PPS. Next Meeting: September 20th

  • Substitute Teacher Committee discusses best practices for substitute teachers and supports the bargaining team. Their work, along with our collective efforts, helped PAT win the strongest Substitute Teacher contract in Oregon. Next meeting: September 27th

  • Membership Committee offers workshops to help PAT members with issues such as student loan forgiveness, retirement planning, and interview skills for the transfer process. It also plans member activities such as the annual PAT “Party in the Park” and Retiree Reception. Next meeting: September 27th

  • Instructional and Professional Development (IPD) Committee meets with PPS leadership monthly to advocate for better district-wide programs for all PAT members. Next meeting: September 13th

  • Legislative Committee works to support local legislation, elected leaders, and candidates for elected office who share our values, so that educators can influence our government to recognize the needs of our students and our profession. Next meeting: September 14th

  • PAT PAC is Portland Association of Teachers' Political Action Committee. It is a voluntary, nonprofit, unincorporated association of individual educators and others and is not affiliated with any political party.  PAT PAC's purpose is to elect to office candidates who are interested in the development of a better educational system in Oregon and Portland Public Schools. Next Meeting: September 14th

  • Nominations and Elections Committee ensures that each PAT member has a fair and easy process for the election of PAT leaders and for the ratification of collective bargaining agreements. Next Meeting: September 20th

  • Bargaining Committee* supports the Bargaining Team, including helping to develop, research, and vet bargaining proposals. It consists of members who work in a variety of job roles, with various lived experiences. Next meeting: September 27th

  • Advocacy Committee* reviews contract exceptions, and ensures that our contract is being followed. They meet with the district monthly to discuss widespread issues around the contract. Next Meeting: September 13th

  • Contract Action Team (CAT) is the vehicle that leads our contract campaign to win a transformative contract. CAT is open to interested members at each school who want to get involved in bringing together educators and parents in collective action to win a new contract. Sign up below on the form to be connected with your CAT Zone Captain and Site CAT leads.

If you are interested in learning more, email PAT Vice President, Jacque Dixon at [email protected].

Join Nominations and Elections Committee

The Nominations and Elections Committee has 3 open spots.  We are looking for dedicated members who want to uphold our important democratic responsibilities as a union.  We are holding elections this year for 5 Executive Board seats, and all officers (President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer) so the work of Nominations and Elections is of utmost importance this year.  If you are interested in joining this committee, please email PAT President, Angela Bonilla, at [email protected].


Article 7 (Workday) of the PAT/PPS Contract includes language to ensure a fair work schedule that allows you to support your students. Using the Schedule Check worksheets further down, review the contract and your schedule. Select the worksheet appropriate for your assignment (grade level/building and full-time or part-time). 

NEW 2023-2024 Due to the Overage Methodology (see HERE):

Special Education Case Management time: All SPED case managers who do not currently receive a case management period will receive a case management period each day for due process paperwork, evaluation work, and IEP work. At the elementary level, the case management period will be at least 40 minutes per day, and no less than 320 minutes total per week. At the middle school and high school levels, the case management period will be not less than the equivalent of one standard class period per day. High school SPED educators will receive a substantially equivalent amount of case management time as other SPED educators. School Psychologists and Speech Language Pathologists are also entitled to self schedule a period of time each day equivalent to a standard class period (or at least 40 minutes per day, and no less than 320 minutes total per week, for those at the elementary level) for due process paperwork, evaluation work, and IEP work. These periods of time for SPED case managers, School Psychologists, and Speech Language Pathologists reserved for SPED paperwork will be in addition to planning time already guaranteed under Article 7.8.  

Advisory/Homeroom Overage: Advisory, homeroom, or other similar periods that require attendance-taking, delivery of content, and tracking student performance and/or participation, count for the purposes of student load and unique preparation in a prorated relationship (based on minutes per week as described in the example) to a standard class period. 

Schedule Check worksheets:

An important part of our union’s ongoing work is making sure the terms of the contract are honored. All educators are responsible for checking their schedule to confirm it provides the contract hours, planning time, duty and lunch periods which the contract requires.

If your schedule needs adjustment, raise the issue now. If you have concerns about your schedule, talk to your administrator. Your PAT Building Representative is available to help.


Emergency sub plans: Please remember to make 3 days worth of Emergency Substitute Educator/Guest Teacher plans! These plans could include:

  • A general run down of the routine in your classroom: How do students ask to leave the classroom/space? Is there a morning Routine? Bell work? Typical end of period routine?
  • Make sure to leave a message for students in the folder reminding them to be flexible, and that with guest teachers sometimes things do not always stay the same and that is ok! 

How to request a substitute

Remember: As SOON as you start to feel sick or show any symptoms, please go to Absence Management and request a substitute. Then email your school secretary and admin sharing your absence. If you know you need to schedule a day in advance for training or Professional Development, please add your jobs to Absence Management ASAP.

Remember, you do NOT need to explain why, just what type of leave you are using. For example:

  • Sick leave (mental and physical): “I am unable to come in because of illness. I have already requested a substitute with Absence Management under the code SICK.”
  • Personal leave: “I am unable to come in due to an emergency [OR an appointment I cannot reschedule].  I have already requested a substitute with Absence Management under the code PERSONAL.”
  • Professional Development leave: “As we discussed, I am taking a day for PD today.  I have already requested a substitute with Absence Management under the code Professional Dev.”
  • COVID quarantine: “I have tested positive for Covid and must isolate for 5 days. I have put this into the notes on Absence Management under the code ‘Quarantine’. I will let you know if my symptoms have not improved and I must continue to isolate after the 5 days of my isolation period.”

Hot Temperatures at Schools

Last year PAT deployed several hundred thermometers to sites. Please place the thermometer in the hot classrooms in your building and take pictures of the temperatures. We are asking you to share the thermometer amongst impacted members/classrooms in your school and take a picture in every room 80°F or hotter.

  • Email your picture to [email protected] with subject line: Temp at [insert your School Name]. 

  • Email your picture & concern to your principal. Feel free to use this script: 

“Dear [Insert Administrator Name], 

Many of our colleagues have come to me with concerns about extreme temperatures in our building. There is a heat wave in the forecast for next week. What is PPS’ plan to implement their Heat Mitigation Plan in our school building?

It is against Oregon OSHA regulations to work under extreme heat [OAR 437-002-0156 – see pp. J-91 to J-107 of]. We want to make sure we are communicating with PAT members and families how building temperatures are being brought down to safe levels.” 

What if the heat is not mitigated at my site?

Educators should work closely with their building administrators if their classroom becomes too warm, and administrators will work to identify cooler areas and move students if needed. If there is no resolution, please file a complaint with Oregon OSHA (here’s a guide for how to do so). Here is a VIDEO to help you understand the process, and you can file a complaint with OSHA HERE.

Party in the Park- Friday, September 8th

Come join us on Friday, September 8th at 3:45 PM (or anytime after school) at Laurelhurst Park to help celebrate the start of the school year! Come and enjoy some live music, (courtesy of fellow PAT educators). We’ll have fun, food, and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic)! Bring your families, too. RSVP today!

Community Art Build, September 22-24

PAT is proud to partner with NEA and Art Build Workers. Come together with your colleagues and community and make art that supports our organizing campaign! No experience necessary, bring the kids! RSVP HERE. See our flyer for more details. 


Upcoming Events (At PAT Office unless otherwise noted)

  • August 30th (Wednesday): Executive Board Meeting 4:30pm-7:30pm
  • September 6th (Wednesday): Representative Assembly 4:30pm-6:30pm
  • September 8th (Friday): Party in the Park, Laurelhurst Park Area D, 3:45pm-6:30pm, RSVP HERE
  • September 8th (Friday): Party in the Park: The After Party (21+), The Sonder Bar, 7pm-late
  • September 22-24th (Friday-Sunday): Community Art Build, All day, RSVP HERE
  • September 30th-October 1st (Saturday-Sunday): CAT Strike School, Best Western Seaside, 11am Sat to 5pm Sun, (for CAT Team members)

Oregon Education Association Opportunities

(Visit for all things OEA related)

  • Professional Learning: OEA has micro credentials and PD relevant to your work. Learn more: 
  • OEA Grow: Did you know OEA has a Podcast? The guests are usually educators just like you discussing issues important to student and educator success. Each episode is about 30-40 minutes long. Listen to the most recent episode about Connecting with student’s Cultures, just in time for the new school year! 
  • Peer Mediation: The OEA Mediation Network provides confidential, non-judgemental mediation and conflict resolution services to OEA Members as a benefit of membership. Their goal is to help union members resolve conflict at the lowest level, improve and increase communication between colleagues, and facilitate dialogue to mend relationships. A mediator facilitates communications, promotes understanding, and helps parties collaboratively problem solve the issues that matter to them. For more information, go to 
  • OEA Grants: Looking for grants to support your development as an educator or to support student learning? Check out OEA Foundation Grants available: