Published: September 15, 2017

Back in February, members working at Portland Public Schools (PPS) kicked off their bargaining campaign sending a Valentine’s Day message to management outlining their goals for the process. Since then they have purpled up on Wednesdays, shared photos on social media, and sent photos to the PPS management team via email. This week, they reached a tentative agreement on their new contract!

Management was proposing unacceptable pay increases and take-aways on working conditions. As a result, members escalated to group actions at all-employee training days and a button action at the start of the school year. Leaders invited members of the school board to attend their meetings to better understanding the issues workers were prioritizing. The last PPS union meeting was attended by two members of the school board, which had a large impact during the last bargaining session.

Highlights of PPS’s Tentative Agreement include:

  • Though management attempted to remove all permissive language from the CBA, we were able to secure all language that would have an impact in practice, including transfers, posting of vacancies, and employee evaluations.
  • Successfully prevented management’s proposal to increase limit for temporary status from 6 months to 12 months.
  • Maintained status quo on health insurance.
  • Secured clear inclement weather policy for Custodians, reopener language for Nutrition Services.
  • In a show of unity, the team would not be divided on wages and were willing to give up step increases, which would only affect custodians (20 percent topped out), in exchange for higher COLAs evenly across both departments. This resulted in a retroactive cost-of-living increase (COLA) of 3 percent as of July 2017, and a 2 percent COLA on July 1, 2018.

Congratulations to all the members at Portland Public Schools and their bargaining team, which including James Dean, Phyllis Dean, Bob Rosingana, Tim Curtin, Leslie Phillips, Barbara Woods, Sekoynia Wright, Barbie Dice-E-Fraguadas, and chief spokesperson Mike Bray.