President’s Message: We Are PAT

Dear Educator,

It is a bittersweet task to write this, my final President’s Message. It has been my great honor to serve as the president of our union these past two years, and especially during a time of crisis, change, and uncertainty, when the united voice of educators has been more crucial than ever. For all of us, it has been a challenging time to say the least, but I am awed and humbled by what we have accomplished together.

Our union has not only survived the pandemic, we have met every challenge head on. Here are just a few things we achieved together in the last two years: 

  • Becoming a leading voice in an international conversation about the educator workload crisis
  • Strengthening ties with our PPS union partners, SEIU, PFSP, DCU, and ATU, including organizing together for safe and stable schools
  • Organizing with parents across the district for smaller class sizes and more building-based supports for students
  • Bargaining some of the strongest pandemic safety language in the country, enabling us to serve our students in-person while mitigating risk to students, educators, and the community
  • Elevating the voice of educators, through our IPC meetings with district leaders, town halls, and work with elected leaders
  • Bringing elected leaders into our classrooms, through Teacher for a Day, so they can experience the teaching and learning conditions that we live each day
  • Initiating the Advocacy Cadre, empowering members to know and enforce our contract
  • Winning ground-breaking contract language to advance racial equity in our union and in our schools
  • Building community amongst members, in our buildings and across the district through our committee work, projects, and celebrations

Educators have accomplished all this and more--despite an ongoing pandemic, distance learning, hybrid instruction, and intermittent shutdowns; while teaching through masks and over the noise of the air purifier; despite a chronic staffing shortage in our schools, and a revolving-door leadership in our district.  Despite all this, PAT members show up to fight for what our students deserve, and what our profession requires. 

Our power comes from our shared dedication to students, and our belief in what we can accomplish together as a union. 

Of course, we build PAT collectively, so there are many people I would like to recognize and thank: 

  • Gwen Sullivan, our out-going PAT Vice President, who has been a peerless advocate, leader, and partner
  • Our incredible PAT staff who consistently go above and beyond for our members 
  • Our elected PAT officers, Executive Board directors, and OEA Board directors who set and oversee our collective goals 
  • Our Committee Chairs and members of every PAT committee, who work to carry out those goals
  • Each one of our 350+ Building Representatives who are the frontline of our union, and who build solidarity and uphold our contract at every work site
  • Our Advocacy Cadre members, who have empowered so many Reps and members with the knowledge of our contract
  • Our unparalleled Bargaining Teams, both for regular certified educators and for substitutes 
  • Our Internal Organizers and External Organizers who build our unity and power
  • Our Retired members who continue to be active in PAT, whose wisdom and energy continue to bolster us
  • Every member who showed up at school board meeting in blue this year
  • And every member who has helped a colleague in need or advocated for our profession 

Our union is powerful because we share the load and do this work together. 

I am grateful to our incoming PAT leaders, and look forward to supporting them, alongside all of you, next year.

WE are PAT, and I could not be more proud to be a member of our union.

In Solidarity forever,

Elizabeth Thiel

PAT President

Know Your Contract: Can I Be Required to Work This Summer?

PPS is sending frequent communications about opportunities for summer professional development and training.  We want to make sure that everyone understands their rights. Article 6, Section 3.6 of your PAT/PPS Contract states:

“Professional educators who work beyond the 192-day work year shall be paid a daily rate of pay computed at 1/192 of their annual basic salary. With the exception of Sections 6.3.1, 6.3.3, 6.3.4, 6.3.5, 6.3.7, 6.3.8, and 6.3.9, professional educators shall not be assigned work beyond the standard work year unless there is mutual agreement between the administrator and the professional educator.” 

This is commonly paraphrased as, “summer trainings must be both paid and voluntary.” What you need to know is that you have the right to decline to participate in summer training. Anything that PPS or your administrator requires of you must be offered during your regular work-day and work-year.

Of course, if you would like to do the summer training, you should. But if you’d rather do them in the fall, you have the right to do that, and they have a duty to accommodate that preference. 

If you are feeling pressured to sign up for summer training and do not wish to work beyond your regular work-year, an appropriate reply to an email invitation might be, “I am available to participate in that training on or after August 24.”

Know Your Contract: When are Grades Due?

We have heard that at some schools, educators have been asked to submit grades this week. 

Article 6, Section 6.5.2 of our contract says, “professional educators shall have a minimum of two (2) full working days to submit grades/progress reports at the end of each grading period.” 

The fourth quarter grading period ends on Friday, June 10, so all professional educators have until the end of the day, Tuesday, June 14th, to submit final grades. While anyone is welcome to submit grades earlier than that, no one can be required to do so.

Donate to the PAT Sick Leave Bank

The current school year has seen an unprecedented need for sick leave bank requests. As a result, our hours were exhausted early in the year and we need your help to collect more hours for next year. 

Do you have unused sick leave hours? Please consider donating before the end of the school year to help support PAT members  facing serious health issues for next year. Members may donate up to 40 hours of sick leave annually. 

Are you retiring or resigning this year? Employees who have already submitted their notice of resignation are exempted from this maximum limit, and may contribute as many hours as they would like. 

The PAT Sick Leave Bank (see PAT/PPS contract Article provides aid for colleagues who have exhausted their accumulated leave balances and are unable to work due to extended or recurring personal illness. With the help of the Sick Leave Bank, they are able to avoid the additional hardships of lost salary and lost insurance coverage during their illness. 

You can donate hours using this online form, or go to our website for additional information.

Apply Join Next Year’s PAT Advocacy Cadre!

PAT is seeking members to serve on next year’s  Advocacy Cadre. To apply, fill out this application form by June 27th. 

What is The PAT Advocacy Cadre? 

This small group of members will work closely with UniServ to become experts on our contract, and will provide member to member support.

The Advocacy Cadre will run a Zoom Advocacy Hotline, where Reps and other members can get immediate answers to questions about the contract and support to resolve problems in their buildings. 

In addition, the Advocacy Cadre will provide support with Rep Training, answering member e-mails to AskPAT@oregoned,org, and creating materials to help members better understand contract issues.

Learn More Here!

March for Our Lives: Saturday Action to End Gun Violence

Saturday, June 11th,  11:00 AM -  2:00 PM PT, Portland State Urban Plaza, Portland, OR

In the week and a half since the tragic mass shooting at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, many educators throughout the nation and in our own state have searched for ways that they can take action to pressure America’s elected leaders to take real action to prevent another senseless tragedy involving gun violence from taking place.

Since its founding in 2018, following another mass school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, NEA has partnered with the organization March for Our Lives. This student-led organization and its hundreds of local chapters around the nation push for changes at the community, state and national level to end gun violence in schools and in America.

On Saturday, June 11th, March for Our Lives chapters across the country are organizing marches, including here in Portland. Sign up here for updates. 

Join the PAT NEO Welcome Team

Volunteers needed for the PAT Welcome Team at New Educators Orientation, August 17th. Please join us!

A great way to help build a strong PAT is to welcome newly hired educators, and ask them to become members of PAT. Sign up here to be part of the NEW PAT Welcome Team

Training will be provided prior to the August NEO. We will send out more information about time and location to all who sign up. We typically need volunteers in the morning to greet new educators as they arrive, and during the lunch break.

Upcoming Events

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