PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — New contract proposals in the ongoing Portland teachers strike were exchanged Sunday as representatives from both the Portland Association of Teachers and the Portland Public Schools continued to negotiate.
But once again, students will have an unanticipated day off. Classes were canceled for Monday as no deal was reached — and each side reverted to their stances in comments after negotiations ended for the day around 4:30 p.m.
What PPS said
PPS officials released their latest offer, which they said “is a significant offer, and it is not without trade offs. Absent any new revenue, budget cuts will be unavoidable and we will need to implement significant cost-saving measures.”
The offer they released shows teachers would get a 10.9% cost-of-living increase over 3 years, 10.6% step increases over 3 years for about half of all educators, bonuses between 0.5% – 1.5% and a $3000/year stipend for special educators.
Additionally, they propose 410 minutes planning time each week (up from the current 320), shifting middle school schedules, dropping the staffing ratio by 1 student beginning next year along with other tangential offers.
PPS Board Chair Gary Hollands is hopeful they can reach a deal soon.
“There is a significant amount of dollars put into this proposal. We tried to make sure we looked at all the educators’ needs and figure out a way that we can address some of it even if we can’t do all of it,” Hollands said Sunday.
What PAT said
Angela Bonilla, the president of the PAT, called the PPS proposal “unconscionable and it’s negligent. We’ve put forward cost-neutral proposals over over the table that the district has rejected.”
“When it comes to class sizes and case loads, there was no improvement,” Bonilla said. “For planning time, it’s the status quo for a majority of our members and less planning time for a portion of our educators. When it comes to a cost of living increase, there was no movement beyond a small one-time cash bonus.”
“We know that there is money. There is $105 million in their general fund,” Bonilla said. “There’s over $20 million coming in each year, according to ODE that they did not project was going to come in.”
But the district said otherwise. And Multnomah County Commissioner Julia Brim-Edwards agreed.
“PPS estimates for this year were the same as the state’s estimate,” Brim-Edwards said. “So there was no $20 million there. There wasn’t $100 million of extra money.”
She added that next year there will be an increase of $9 million.
The PAT wants the district to put everything on the table.
“We’re talking about a 3-year budget, and they need to start talking to us about what do these improvements look like not just this year, but moving forward,” Bonilla said.
Teachers are expected back on the picket lines Monday morning.
Another bargaining session is scheduled for Tuesday, PAT officials said.
Unfair labor alleged
The negotiations continued despite some back-and-forth on Saturday when PPS said they planned to file an unfair labor practice against the PAT stemming from a protest at the Oregon Convention Center where a Portland school board member was attending a Metro retreat.
That incident came on the heels of at least 30 protesters who rallied outside of PPS Chief of Staff Jonathan Garcia’s home.
A letter from PPS to PAT said the district intends to file an unfair labor practice charge along with civil penalties unless PAT pledged to not engage in similar picketing activities. It’s not clear if they actually filed the complaint.
In response, PAT lawyer Noah Barish said, “I will not take the time to respond to your hyperbole and gross exaggerations, not the least of which is referring to the peaceful activities of striking teachers, which are protected under the PECBA and Oregon and United States Constitutions, as ‘threats, violence and terrorism.’”
In a statement Sunday to KOIN 6 News, a Metro spokesperson said the PAT protest at the Oregon Convention Center “was not in compliance” with their policy where protests and other First Amendment activities can take place at the Oregon Convention Center.
Portland teachers began their strike on November 1.
KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.