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PPS reaches impasse in bargaining with PAT

November 20, 2013
Portland Public Schools announced today that contract talks with the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) are at impasse. 

The announcement comes with the two sides far apart on major issues after seven months of negotiations. At this time, more than $200 million separates the two sides’ compensation offers.

Since bargaining started, the school district has sought contract changes that would help all students attain high academic standards, regardless of race or class. PPS’ offer would:

  • Lengthen the school year by three days and the teacher work year by two days.
  • Make competence a more important factor in teacher assignment and layoff.
  • Streamline hiring to make PPS more competitive for high-quality candidates.
  • Maintain teacher workloads at existing levels through 2015-16 while a work group studies the issue.
  • Provide pay and benefits that are in line with revenue and competitive with other school districts. This will enable PPS to hire more teachers and reduce class sizes.

“We hope impasse will spur both sides to address these issues and reach a settlement in a timely manner,” said Sean Murray, PPS chief human resources officer. “Contract talks that go on for months or years disrupt schools and hurt students.”

Impasse has led to PPS-PAT settlements in the past

Impasse comes 216 days after PPS and PAT started bargaining on April 18, 2013. The two sides have been working with a state mediator for more than a month. So far, the bargaining teams have reached agreement on just five of 27 contract articles.

Impasse is the next step after mediation and it can help focus bargaining teams on reaching a final agreement. For example, in 2010, PPS and PAT went to impasse after nearly two years of bargaining, and the sides then reached a settlement in a matter of weeks.

Once impasse is reached, the two sides have seven days to submit their final contract offers and cost estimates to a mediator. The mediator will make both offers public.

That starts a 30-day cooling off period during which the sides may continue bargaining. If there is no agreement after 30 days, the school board may implement conditions of its final offer, and teachers may choose to strike. Bargaining continues through this period until a settlement is reached.

PPS offer will keep teacher compensation competitive with other school districts

The school district offer includes provisions that will keep teacher compensation competitive, including salaries, school district contributions to teacher health insurance and other benefits.

Under the school district offer:

  • All teachers would receive cost-of-living pay increases totaling 5 percent over three years.
  • Pay for all teachers would go up an additional 1 percent in tandem with the two added work days.
  • Eligible teachers, about half of the total teaching force, also would receive experience-step increases of approximately 11 percent over three years. In total, salaries would increase 6 to 17 percent for teachers, based on whether they receive steps.

PPS would raise its insurance contribution by 2 percent a year in 2014-15 and 2015-16. It also would stop paying a percentage of premium costs and instead pay a set dollar amount. This year, PPS would continue paying its current rate of $1,431 per month, but teachers’ premium payments actually would fall, to $82.22 per month from the current $121.25. Under PAT’s proposal, teachers would pay $116.94 per month.

PAT offer adds more restrictions on teaching and learning

The PAT proposal would add more restrictive rules to the current contract, which would get in the way of effective teaching and improved student learning. These proposals include:

  • No increase in school days.
  • Preventing schools from increasing the length of the school day.
  • Declaring teachers competent if they have an evaluation that does not result in termination or a failed plan of assistance.
  • Salary increases, workload bonuses and benefits packages that would add $243 million in costs over 2 years.

The school district’s goal is a contract that helps increase the graduation rate, with students ready for college and careers. The school board and the district bargaining team are committed to resolving these issues at the bargaining table, and doing so in a timely manner.

For more information about bargaining and the teacher contract, visit http://www.pps.k12.or.us/departments/laborrelations/9042.htm.


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