Teacher contract negotiations stalled well into second year

8:30 am

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.

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

filed under: Labor Relations

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5 Responses

  1. Comment from Miss Merry Sunshine:

    Ahhh…..when I started teaching in the 70’s, most of us worked second/summer jobs because the pay was so low. How history repeats itself—-many new teachers are doing the same, loaded with huge college debt, unable to purchase a home in this area. We keep going lower, lower, lower in area comparable teaching wages, and let’s not even talk about the IAP plan new teachers are all enrolled in, thanks to PERS being frozen. Oh, are today’s teachers gonna have a nasty wake up call and surprise if they even make it to retirement age! At least old farts in the 70’s and 80’s were promised a nice retirement in lieu of decent wages (see Oregonian editorial today, even THEY admit that little fact).

    Lest I be accused of “whining”–let’s see: decreasing pay, benefits becoming “iffy” and we pay part of them now, no retirement to look forward to, increased work load, buy your own supplies and materials, constant changes in the name of ‘re-design’, less support services to kids and teachers, the threat of performance pay (a la Arne Duncan)——I want to congratulate the PPS on how they are showing their teacher appreciation—NOT! Skip the platitudes and whatever little token we get during “teacher appreciation week”!

    The district’s attitude makes me ill, and is absolutely insulting and digusting.

    Now I think I’ll go have some cheeze with my whine….

  2. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    True story (from PAT): On the first day of school, a Portland Public high school chemistry teacher received his class lists at the beginning of the year. He found he had 20% more students this year than last. He quickly went to make copies to prepare for class, only to find that the school had no paper and the copier was out of commission. What was the district doing? Having a meeting for administrators at an off-site retreat.

  3. Comment from Miss Merry Sunshine:

    Oh, and to add to that, a big roll out of Special Education curricula botched. HS Sped teachers went to a 3 day training in the spring, promised we would have ALL THE MATERIALS by the time school started. Oh, yes, and we were told someone was even driving east to pick them up! (That was a good one, I believed it!)

    Guess what, short/incomplete sets of hardcover text and consumables. Seems to me copyright laws apply, but teachers in HS are EXPECTED TO implement this program–with sets for less than 10 students and classroom sizes in Special Ed. of 13-18!!!! I kid you not. Many schools run out of copy paper several times during the year–why? Because the PPS doesn’t have the basic texts and supplies that teachers need. This is one nasty little secret that needs to come out to the public.

    So, when are the sets going to come? One teacher I know put an order in early September and got called in October with questions about his order—guess he’ll be lucky if he sees his books next April…


  4. Comment from Steve Buel:

    Ever since Matt Prophet left as superintendent PPS has put politics ahead of kids. This has created a school district without a focus. When the whole district can’t get behind the decision making process then employee relations break down and things like negotiations become more of a we versus them situation. Unable to work together for common goals (and the only sensible one is working together for what’s good for kids — using that mantra as your guide for making decisions)then groups splinter off into a what’s good for me (or us) philosophy.

    So we use test scores, educational trends, and political feasibility (and the upper economic groups are always more politically feasible) as our guides for making the district’s decisions. And what you get is a mess. And guess what we have.

  5. Comment from kim:

    The more I learn about PPS, the more disgusted I am with it. Bleh. Get me out of here.