Teacher contract negotiations stalled well into second year

Teachers in Portland Public Schools are in their second year without a contract. District negotiators seem to have “backed themselves into a corner,” according to Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) negotiators, and are unwilling to entertain creative bargaining suggestions, like adding a third year to the contract under consideration.

The contract currently being negotiated is for the two-year period ending in June 2010. In normal circumstances, negotiations for the next contract, covering July 2010 through June 2012, would begin early next year.

It is no secret that virtually all teachers work many hours and days beyond the requirements of their contract. They are insulted by the district’s insistence on taking a furlough equal to a 2.63 percent pay cut, especially after they worked for ten days for free to stave off a threatened 24-day cut to the school year in 2003. No other bargaining unit at PPS sacrificed like that.

The district’s call for “shared sacrifice” is seen as disingenuous by teachers. They are being asked to take on more responsibility for less pay, even as administrators at BESC are given five-figure raises for — that’s right — “increased responsibilities.”

The top pay for a PPS teacher with a PhD and twelve year’s experience is around $70,000. The part-time (80 percent) Director of Planning and Performance at BESC, who has an MBA and no prior K-12 education experience, makes $90,000.

The state has been called in to mediate, but so far there is still no progress.

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