By Jack Rubinger

Portland Community College (PCC) reached tentative agreements with the Federation of Classified Employees and the Federation of Faculty and Academic Professionals December 13 for successor contracts covering a four-year term.

Meetings between PCC and the Federations began in late February of this year and most of the non-economic contract issues were resolved in August. 

Bargaining over economic and remaining non-economic issues began in early August. 

Although the parties’ initial proposals were far apart, they made progress toward closing the gap during several bargaining sessions held late summer through the fall, finally reaching resolutions acceptable to both sides. 

At the center of bargaining was a desire to address employee concerns that wage increases keep pace with the increased cost of living in the Portland metro area, the College’s need to maintain a balanced budget, and the ability to invest in strategic initiatives to better serve PCCs students.

“After 12 hours of bargaining, we reached a tentative agreement with a fair and acceptable proposal,” said Trina Hing, ESOL Instructor, PCC-SE Campus. 

“Now we just need to have members from both Federations vote for approval and the PCC Board of Members to add their stamp of approval.” 

Voting was slated to take place in late December. 

Key components of the agreements include salary increases for most employees that total 4.5% each year when averaged over the four years of the agreement. Salary for part-time faculty will vary based on a new schedule that provides parity to the full-time faculty salary schedule. 

A new top step of 3% will be added to the full-time faculty salary schedule phased in over four years. Increases for the third and fourth years of the agreement will be contingent upon meeting specific levels of funding and student enrollment. 

Other issues include providing four weeks of paid parental leave. Contributions to health insurance premiums will be maintained at the current level with no additional increases over the term of the agreement.

“The College is pleased to have reached this conclusion prior to the end of the calendar year,” said Kate Chester, Director of  Public Relations and Community Engagement.

“The outcome stems from the patience and dedication of negotiating members from both administration and the Federations, whose partnership has led to a fair and equitable result for the College overall,” 

According to the Federation, 76% of employees at PCC are part-time and well over half the courses are taught by part-time faculty. 

The main problems for part-time faculty has been job insecurity and unfair compensation. 

Federation representatives said that very few have “assignment rights” or “multi-year contracts.” They’re paid a fraction of what full-time faculty make and they’re overworked.

Recent surveys revealed that many instructors qualify for government funded aid and use it to survive, even people with a masters degree and doctorates. 

Both Portland Community College Federation of Faculty and Academic Professionals and Classified Employee Federation had been working without a contract since last  August 31, and June 30, respectively  and both are four year contracts.