Custodians and Food Service Workers Reach Agreement

2:11 pm

SEIU Local 503 appears to have reached a tentative agreement with Portland Public Schools that would preserve custodians’ wages and give food service workers a modest cost of living increase. It also appears that the district will be contributing more toward health benefits.

The union’s happy, the district’s happy, but one question remains: If everybody’s so happy, why did the district play hardball for nine months, insisting on draconian cuts up until the very last mediation session? Couldn’t we have settled right away and used that $55,973.87 we spent on the union busting law firm Barran Liebman in the classroom instead?

Share or print:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • email
  • Print

Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.

filed under: Labor Relations

follow responses with RSS

7 Responses

  1. Comment from Zarwen:

    Steve, I crunched the numbers: that $55,973.87 would have paid for well over 2,000 custodial service hours.

    It could also have funded a full-time teacher for one year.

  2. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    Doesn’t a teacher cost more than that when you figure in benefits? I thought it was more like $75,000.

    (I saw some specific numbers in a recent budget, but now I can’t recall the exact amounts.)

    At any rate, it was not money well spent.

  3. Comment from Zarwen:

    It depends on the teacher’s qualifications and seniority. You are correct that $55,000 would not fund a senior teacher, but it could fund a beginning teacher. I am sorry for not being more specific.

  4. Comment from k.c. workinguy:

    It is important to note that considerable concessions were given to PPS by the SEIU Custodians. No wage reductions for CURRENT Custodians in their CURRENT job classifications. However any promotion(of which there will be many due to the lack of returnees from 2002 firings) will involve considerable wage reductions from previous aggreements. The Custodians are accepting 3 years wage freeze with no raises not even annual step increases. Entire job classifications have been collapsed downward meaning new hires will be earning much less than veteran employees. While it is a relief for all that a strike seems to have been averted(pending ratification vote by SEIU members)it might be safe to say that many SEIU members will be somewhat less than “Happy”.

    Hopefully people will not forget that the Custodians are giving up considerable economic concessions . . . and Hopefully Some Healing Can Begin To Occur After PPS Shoddy Mistreatment Of These Workers In The Wholesale 2002 Firings.

  5. Comment from Anne T.:

    You are so right KC workingguy.
    This is death by a thousand cuts.Two tier wage systems are union-busting. Maybe the whole 34% wage cut was a red herring to distract from the cuts that did get negotiated.
    They also had workforce reduction, so that fewer people are doing more work.

  6. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    Good points. My “happy” remark was based on a newspaper quote, not actual analysis of the deal.

    It’s kind of sickening how eight months of PPS demanding a 33% wage cut makes a three-year wage freeze look good.

  7. Comment from k.c. workinguy:

    Custodians and Cafeteria workers by an overwhelming majority voted to ratify the proposed contract on Saturday February 16. The PPS Board was scheduled to vote on the same proposal on Monday February 25 but at the last moment the vote was shelved. The explanation was that the information the district staff had provided to the board contained significant errors and would have to be revised with corrections . . . Sounds all too familiar to those on the SEIU bargaining team who endured over eight months of similiar numbers crunching fiascos presented by PPS Labor Relations Director Tom Gunn . . . Hey PPS . . Is there an actual bean counter located somewhere in the house ? ? ?