Arbitrator Finds Portland School District Violated High School Workload Contract Provisions

Attorney Margaret Olney has represented local associations throughout the state in efforts to protect their members from the constant pressure of being required to do more work for the same pay.   Most recently, she won a second arbitration for the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) relating to high school workload. The first arbitration arose in 2011 when the District unilaterally adopted a new block schedule that required teachers to teach six instead of five classes and consequently, substantially more students. An arbitrator found that the new schedule violated workload protections in the contract. There were a number of disputes regarding remedy, but ultimately, the District was required to pay over $2 million to high school teachers as compensation for the excess workload.

During bargaining for the current contract, workload protection and workload relief were priorities for PAT.  Despite District demands for take backs regarding workload, PAT succeeded in maintaining key workload protections.  Unfortunately, within days of the contract settlement, the District announced that it would impose a new schedule at all high schools that added significant additional instructional time per week, and eliminated other time available to assist students.  The schedule was inconsistent with promises made in bargaining and, once again, PAT was forced to file a grievance and take the matter to arbitration.  The arbitrator agreed with PAT that workload under the new schedule was not generally comparable to that in place in 2010-2011 (the benchmark year) and ordered the District to return to the prior workload levels and to negotiate a remedy to compensate teachers for the increased workload.   Those discussions regarding remedy are still pending.