Labor Union

Portland Association of Teachers

Website:

www.pdxteachers.org/

Location:

Portland, OR

Tax ID:

93-0557517

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(6)

Budget (2021):

Revenue: $690,325
Expenses: $709,553
Assets: $1,100,989

Type:

Teachers’ Union

President:

Elizabeth Thiel

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The Portland Association of Teachers is a left-of-center teachers’ union representing educators in the Portland, Oregon public school district. The union represents around 3,500 teachers within the Portland Public School system, which serves 49,000 students.

The union has supported a variety of left-of-center issues and causes in its history and has taken aggressive stances in collective bargaining negotiations to support large pay increases for teachers combined with fewer instruction hours within schools. In 2021 the union proposed adopting a permanent four-day school week. In 2023, the union went on strike in what was the first teachers’ strike in the city’s history, closing city schools for multiple weeks while the union demanded several aggressive changes to the union’s contract, including pay increases and a reduction in classroom hours. 1 2

Background

The Portland Association of Teachers represents teachers in Portland Public Schools, a school district that serves 49,000 students in Portland, Oregon. In 2022, the union’s website claimed that the union represented 4,500 teachers; however as of November 2023 the Portland Public Schools’ website showed 3,587 PAT-represented employees, with approximately 500 employees who were not affiliated with the union. Smaller groups of employees are represented by other unions including the Portland Federation of School Professionals (PFSP, an American Federation of Teachers) affiliate, and a local SEIU affiliate. 3 4

The Portland Association of Teachers is affiliated with the Oregon Education Association and the National Education Association. 5

Activities

In addition to its collective bargaining activity, the Portland Association of Teachers also supports a variety of left-of-center causes. In 2022, the group participated in the national Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action, which shared resources on teaching Black Lives Matter-related curricula titled “Teaching Hard History” at schools for students from kindergarten to high school. The group also shared resources from the DC Area Educators for Social Justice. The union’s stated goals of the week of action were to “share a few vetted resources to support your efforts to connect students to the vast tapestry of resistance, power, knowledge, and joy of Black Americans from past to present.”  6

In 2021, Portland Association of Teachers president Elizabeth Thiel called for various versions of an approach to cut in-class instruction by one day a week in high schools to combat teacher staffing shortages. The proposal created a “firestorm” and was rebuked by multiple Democratic politicians in Oregon. 7

2023 Strike

In September 2023, the Portland Association of Teachers voted to go on strike, which began on November 1, 2023 and continued for multiple weeks, closing schools for the duration of the strike. At the outset of the strike the union and the school district were $200 million apart in negotiations over the three-year contract. The National Education Association released a statement supporting the strike.

Key aspects demanded by the union were class size limits and increased planning time as “The current contract allows middle and high school teachers one class period per day and elementary school teachers 320 minutes of planning time per week. The union’s proposal calls for teachers at all levels to have 440 minutes per week, or 88 minutes per day. The district said it can’t manage giving more time to middle and high school educators.” 8

The Washington Examiner noted that another demand of the union was “racial justice professional development training,” noting that the union stated, “Educators deserve professional development that is led by educators that addresses critical topics like racial equity and implicit bias.” The Examiner said the demand “continues a recent trend by teachers unions to use collective bargaining negotiations to demand liberal policy goals.” 9

On November 17, the union made a “big concession” by dropping its proposal for cap sizes. On November 20, local media reported that the Portland school board said that “sides are ‘very, very close,” to an agreement but pushed back on claims from the union that the board rejected a prior agreement. 10

On November 20, local news reported that community tensions were rising over the strike as striking teachers marched across a bridge in the city and temporarily blocked traffic. The chair of the school board’s car was also reportedly vandalized by protestors outside and a rental property owned by one board member was also allegedly vandalized by protestors with spray-painted messages that read “Shame,” “We [heart] students,” “Kids deserve better,” “Hi Julie :)” and “F*ck you.” 11

The union and school district reached an agreement to end the strike on November 26, 2023. In a statement, the school district said the new contract would “provide educators with a 13.8% cumulative cost-of-living increase over the next three years and about half of all educators would earn an extra 10.6% from yearly step increases, PPS said. The agreement would also add classroom time for elementary and middle grades starting next year and increase teacher planning time by 90 minutes each week for elementary and middle-aged classrooms.” The union claimed victory following the agreement, calling it a “watershed moment.” 12

The three weeks of missed school days left unresolved issues in school scheduling for the school district, and in make up days over the winter break, over 9,000 students were absent from schools and over 550 teachers went absent. 13

References

  1. Auden Land, Joni. “No resolution to Portland teachers strike despite talks through the weekend.” Oregon Public Broadcasting. November 21, 2023. Accessed November 22, 2023.  https://www.opb.org/article/2023/11/19/no-resolution-portland-teachers-strike-despite-talks-through-weekend/
  2. Silverman, Julia. “Portland teacher strike: Union makes big concession, withdrawing proposal for capping class sizes.” The Oregonian. November 15, 2023. Accessed November 22, 2023. https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2023/11/portland-teacher-strike-union-makes-big-concession-withdrawing-proposal-for-capping-class-sizes.html
  3. “About PAT.” Portland Association of Teachers. Accessed via Wayback Machine December 20, 2023. https://web.archive.org/web/20220120061331/https://www.pdxteachers.org/about
  4. “Portland Public Schools Information.” Portland Public Schools. Accessed December 20, 2023. https://www.pps.net/domain/265
  5. “Our Board.” Oregon Education Association. Accessed November 22, 2023. https://oregoned.org/about-oea/our-leadership/our-board
  6. “Home.” Portland Association of Teachers. Accessed via wayback machine November 22, 2023. https://web.archive.org/web/20220218184644/https://www.pdxteachers.org/
  7. Monahan, Rachel. “The President of the Portland Teachers’ Union Defends a Controversial Proposal to Cut Classroom Days.” Willamette Week. December 08, 2021. Accessed November 22, 2023. https://www.wweek.com/news/schools/2021/12/08/the-president-of-the-portland-teachers-union-defends-a-controversial-proposal-to-cut-classroom-days/
  8. Brasch, Ben. “Portland teachers are on strike, with schools closed. Here’s what to know.” Washington Post. November 2, 2023. Accessed November 22, 2023.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2023/11/02/portland-teacher-strike-union/
  9. Poff, Jeremiah. “Portland teachers use strike to demand racial equity trainings as schools stay closed.” Washington Examiner. November 13, 2023. Accessed November 22, 2023. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/education/portland-teachers-strike-demand-racial-equity-schools-closed
  10. Silverman, Julia. “Portland teacher strike: Union makes big concession, withdrawing proposal for capping class sizes.” The Oregonian. November 15, 2023. Accessed November 22, 2023. https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2023/11/portland-teacher-strike-union-makes-big-concession-withdrawing-proposal-for-capping-class-sizes.html
  11. Pate, Natalie. “Community tensions rise as Portland teachers strike hits three weeks.” Oregon Public Broadcasting. November 21, 2023. Accessed November 22, 2023. https://www.opb.org/article/2023/11/21/portland-oregon-teachers-strike-update-after-three-weeks/
  12. “Schools in Portland, Oregon, reach tentative deal with teachers union after nearly month-long strike.” Associated Press. November 26, 2023. Accessed December 20, 2023. https://apnews.com/article/teachers-strike-agreement-portland-oregon-dac8cc02e5a74cff73d8208f148b5924
  13. Pate, Natalie. “Thousands of Portland Public Schools students, staff absent from added week of classes following teachers strike.” Oregon Public Broadcasting. December 19, 2023. Accessed December 20, 2023. https://www.opb.org/article/2023/12/19/absences-portland-public-schools-added-week-of-classes-december-winter-break/
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: August - July
  • Tax Exemption Received: August 1, 1969

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2021 Aug Form 990 $690,325 $709,553 $1,100,989 $0 N $0 $680,219 $4,435 $239,886 PDF
    2020 Aug Form 990 $667,641 $656,452 $1,120,217 $0 N $0 $655,235 $8,538 $230,987
    2019 Aug Form 990 $845,389 $626,757 $1,109,028 $0 N $125,000 $643,875 $4,360 $286,562 PDF
    2018 Aug Form 990 $669,444 $524,322 $890,397 $0 N $0 $634,690 $1,361 $245,693 PDF
    2017 Aug Form 990 $642,719 $560,014 $745,275 $0 N $0 $638,303 $1,248 $262,606 PDF
    2016 Aug Form 990 $647,623 $521,820 $662,570 $0 N $0 $597,836 $1,108 $229,338 PDF
    2015 Aug Form 990 $530,119 $461,601 $536,767 $0 N $0 $529,357 $762 $236,100 PDF
    2014 Aug Form 990 $565,965 $521,230 $468,249 $0 N $77,815 $484,788 $80 $221,738 PDF
    2013 Aug Form 990 $474,326 $372,755 $423,514 $0 N $0 $466,221 $20 $155,513 PDF
    2012 Aug Form 990 $463,905 $452,164 $321,943 $0 N $454,517 $0 $23 $186,991 PDF
    2011 Aug Form 990 $458,343 $470,067 $310,202 $0 N $454,939 $0 $32 $130,085 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Portland Association of Teachers


    Portland, OR