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PPS bargaining team narrows topics in PAT contract talks to focus negotiations

July 12, 2013

Representatives from Portland Public Schools (PPS) and the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) met yesterday in the ninth bargaining session since talks opened in April. There were no major new proposals exchanged at the bargaining session.

At today’s session, PPS negotiators presented a letter that identified proposals for the  PAT contract that are not required topics of bargaining, as defined by state labor law. The purpose of the letter was to focus the discussion on mandatory (not “permissive”) subjects, to speed the pace of talks in hopes of reaching a negotiated settlement prior to September, when the 2013-14 school year begins.

Mandatory subjects in the PAT contract include salaries and benefits for teachers. In its letter, the school district did not propose eliminating all permissive language from the agreement.

PPS Chief Human Resources Officer Sean Murray said, “Over many years, the PAT contract has accumulated many work rules and restrictions that school districts are not required to add.  PAT has only agreed to meet a few times this summer. With our limited opportunities to hold talks, we need time to reach agreement on the issues that state law tells us we must address.”

Priorities in PPS proposal
The Portland school board is seeking changes in the hiring and workload rules in the PAT contract to help more students achieve high academic standards, regardless of their race or income. The school board’s proposed changes would give schools more ability to assign a high quality teacher to every classroom. Proposed changes would also revise outdated work rules that keep principals and teachers working in ways they did 15 years ago.

In addition, PPS has offered PAT members pay raises of 1 percent per year in each of the next four years (in addition to step increases), which are in line with state funding for K-12 schools recently approved by the Oregon legislature.

Last month the school board approved a 2013-14 budget that would add a net increase of 56 staff in PPS schools, based on approved state funding. Both sides’ proposals can be found at http://www.pps.k12.or.us/departments/laborrelations/index.htm

Next bargaining session
The current contract has been in effect since July 2011 and expired June 30, 2013. Terms of the most recent contract will remain in effect while the parties continue to bargain.

The next meeting will be held on August 12 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., at the PAT’s offices. The session is open to the public.

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