FAQ on Union Strikes

Going on strike is a very serious matter. Every day on strike is a day without pay. But it might be the only way to get a decent raise, one that will help all PCC employees afford a decent standard of living. And the only way for a strike to be successful is if the union members stick together and refuse to work. 

Some people will say “I can’t go on strike because I have bills to pay.” We all have bills to pay. Strikes are painful, there is no getting around that. But if we are all in it together, we have a much better chance of making it pay off with a contract that provides you with fair pay. 

What is a strike?

A strike happens when workers collectively vote to withhold their labor, usually due to the failure to reach a satisfactory agreement in contract bargaining. 

Going on strike can be a slow process. First we’d have official mediation. Then we’d have consultation and a vote by members, which would set a strike date.

Will I get paid while on strike?

No. But our union has reserve funds that could serve as a strike fund to help members pay bills during a strike. The FFAP Finance Committee is currently developing policies around distributing reserve funds for this purpose. 

What’s mediation? 

Mediation is a process where an independent mediator from the state Employment Relations Board (ERB) meets separately with each side, helping them examine their bottom line and figure out what movement they can make to reach agreement with the other side. This usually leads to an agreement, but how far management is willing to move is greatly influenced by the union’s solidarity. If we actively and visibly support the union bargaining team (now and even if we enter mediation) then we have a better chance of leaving mediation with a good contract. 

What can I do now to avoid a strike?

Continue to show solidarity with your coworkers, participate in workplace and campus actions, and if there is a strike vote, then vote in favor of a strike. Our bargaining team would not ask for a strike vote if we didn’t think it was necessary. Just because you vote in favor of a strike doesn’t mean it will happen! The strike vote is a way for the union to determine how much support there would be for a strike if we had one. If a majority of the members vote not to strike, then we will know that striking is not an option and we may have to accept whatever deal management has put on the table. 

What happens to students?

Classes will have to be cancelled. But many other teachers unions have gone on strike. Part of what we are fighting for is to have the financial support and college structures to do better and more for our students. In many cases, the community has supported striking teachers, including recently in Los Angeles.

Can anyone be fired or replaced for striking?

You cannot be disciplined for participating in a lawful strike. And even though management has the right to permanently replace striking workers, PCCFFAP would not agree to a settlement unless all striking members are returned to their jobs.  

Can I use vacation time or sick leave so I get paid during a strike?

No.

Can I collect unemployment benefits while on strike?

No. 

What happens if you cross the picket line? 

You greatly weaken our chances to win a good contract, which means you weaken your chances of getting a decent raise.  The success of a strike depends on everyone sticking together. 

Who decides to conduct a strike?

The union members. Our bargaining team will conduct a strike authorization vote and all dues-paying members will have the right to vote on whether or not to go on strike.

Who can vote?

All members in good standing. Non-dues payers may sign a membership card at any time and become eligible to vote.

Who can strike?

All members, non-dues payers and probationary employees in the bargaining unit may strike.

How long would a strike last?

That’s up to the union members. During the course of a strike the union bargaining team will continue to try and reach agreement with management. Usually a strike ends when the membership votes to accept a proposal from management. 

Are all members expected to walk a picket line?

Yes. A strong picket line is absolutely necessary for a strike to be successful. If there is a strike, there will be rotating shifts so there are always a lot of people on the line.  For those with health conditions that make it difficult or impossible to walk the line, the union will make accommodations.

Bargaining Update #24

Last Friday, the joint bargaining team met with PCC administration from 1:00 -8:30 p.m. to try to finalize a contract settlement. The administration came up a little, the federations came down a  little, but we are still several million dollars apart, and the federation bargaining team ended the night feeling that we had hit our limit. We KNOW the college has the money, and frankly, we are done whittling away at our priorities. It’s time for the administration to settle the contract—fairly, so that PCC faculty and staff can have some relief from the economic pressures of the last ten years.

The administration’s latest offer included:

  • Step compression in years 2 and 4 (see here for details)
  • 2.5% COLA in each of years 1, 2, 3, and 4
  • PT instructional pay parity: over four years, increase the number of PT steps to 17 (from 11), with new steps to be 70% of FT faculty rate
  • 2% lump sum payment in years 1&2 for FT Faculty and APs on the top step
  • PT faculty mid-year step advancement for those within 100 hours of the next step in September.
  • PT faculty sick leave: additional 40hrs may be banked for a FMLA-defined issue
  • PT faculty health insurance trust fund of $40,000
  • AP leave bank: hours rolled over in the bank from the previous year can be used for caregiving
  • Parental leave: 4 weeks emplopyer-paid time off, employee may retain 40 hours of their own leave
  • FDC compensation structure changes (see here for details)
  • Maintenance of current health insurance caps 

It did NOT include (and we will keep fighting!):

  • New top step for FT faculty
  • Redress for AP 6&7 (see here for details)
  • A COLA that keeps up with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) over the next four years

It may seem like we are most of the way to a deal, and while that might be true, the total amount of money the administration is offering for 2019-21 is $2 million below the amount that settled the contract re-opener in 2017, when the amount of state funding for PCC was $17 million lower. We think we can successfully bargain for a combination of gains including a higher COLA, a new top step for FT Faculty, and a fair redress for APs on the issue of Levels 6&7. We hope members have our backs in this effort! Thank you and I hope to see many of you at bargaining on Friday, from 9am-2pm at CLIMB. Click here to sign up to observe. Feel free to reach out to me or any of the members of the negotiations team (names contact info here) with questions or feedback.

Update on AP 6&7

(This is copied from an email sent to APs on November 19, 2019)

In 2005, the PCC administration agreed to add 2 new levels to the AP pay scale, expanding it from 5 levels to 7. Since then, not a single AP has been placed or reclassified at AP 6 or 7. This has been a source of frustration and confusion for APs! Over the years, we’ve been told:

-An AP whose duties are more complex than a level 5 would be a manager.
-The college paid an outside organization to develop the 5-level scale, using a system that is proprietary.
-Expanding the scale to 7 levels would be too expensive/complicated/disruptive!

During bargaining, the college admitted *on the record* that it is 100% impossible for an AP to achieve level 6 or 7. And yet, AP 6&7 remain in the contract, like Lucy with the football, and APs keep running up to it, only to fall on our backs . (Not sure if my metaphor works – at least in the Lucy scenario the football is real!)

In bargaining, we proposed a solution: Eliminate Levels 1&7, and bump every AP up one level, resulting in an across-the-board 6.5% pay increase for every AP. We felt this was a fair solution to the college’s seemingly bad-faith installation of salary levels that were unattainable.

We were and remain open to phasing this in over 2-4 years. But the college has been completely unwilling to entertain this solution, nor have they proposed an alternative.Here’s the thing, though: the college is contractually obligated to “maintain a job classification system for Academic Professionals.” (reference Article 5.71) By refusing to provide a system that includes levels 6&7, they are  in violation of the contract.

To address this, our Labor Relations Specialist, Vincent Blanco will soon file a group grievance (kind of like a class-action lawsuit) on behalf of all APs. Were it to be resolved in our favor (which we are quite confident it would be), the grievance would force the college to create a system that includes 6&7. We are also asking for backpay for APs who have been negatively impacted by this situation.

Alternatively, the college could meet our demands at the bargaining table. APs would agree to a five-level system in exchange for a pay adjustment, and, presumably, the grievance goes away.

Since the grievance is being filed on behalf of all APs, I wanted to let you know. Please reach out to Michelle DuBarry (michelle.dubarry@pccffap.org) or Heidi Edwards (heidi.edwards@pccffap.org) if you have any questions or concerns.

Thank you and we hope to see many of you later this week on the picket line, at the board meeting, or the bargaining room.

Tell the PCC Board of Directors – we need a fair contract!

After an EIGHT-hour negotiating session on Friday December 6, our federation has bent in just about every way we can. We want a fair contract now. But the administration team still asks us to give up more. If the college administration can’t see our needs, maybe the board will.

We need to tell the PCC Board it’s time to settle this contract. We started negotiations last Winter term. That’s Winter 2019. And, without quick action, the college will have us still negotiating in Winter 2020.We know it’s a busy time of year. We’re asking all of our members to send a short letter to the board member who represents your home district (info below) telling them why settling a contract now is essential. Tell them why a fair contract matters to you. A

Board Member Names & Contact info

If you write to them now, please CC the Federation at mary.sykora@pccffap.org.

Bargaining Update #23

Last Friday the joint Federation bargaining team, which includes representatives from full time and part time faculty, academic professionals, and classified staff, presented a proposal to administration that brought us within $6 million over a four-year contract. (For context the federation’s full proposal costs $61 million.)  Administration requested a caucus so they could formulate a counter proposal. After 2.5 hours, they told us they weren’t able to finish a proposal, but they would send us something over email. Yesterday we learned that their proposal will not be ready until after the Thanksgiving holiday. 

While it is disappointing to head into Thanksgiving weekend empty-handed (so to speak), the negotiations team has the impression that the administration team is working hard to settle the contract. The Federation’s actions last Thursday (picketing, showing up at the board meeting) seemed to have really made a difference. We are hopeful that we can strike a deal by the end of the term. We’ll be in touch early next week with some next steps for members who would like to help us keep the pressure on. In the meantime, mark your calendar for the next bargaining session – Dec. 6 from 1:00-5:00 p.m. at CLIMB. Sign up to observe here

Subject: Bargaining Update #22: Moving the Goalposts

The Joint FFAP-FCE bargaining team met on Nov. 19 to try to close the $10M gap between what the Federations are demanding and what the college says they can afford over the next four years. The two sides had been working on a four-year deal covering two bienniums with conditions placed on the second biennium—the rationale being that we won’t know what resources the college will have available in 2021, and both sides would want to come back to the bargaining table if there were significant shifts in state funding, enrollment, or any other revenue sources for the college.

Here are the main components of administration’s offer.  Their four-year deal includes:

  • Step Compression for Full Time Faculty (FT), Part Time Faculty (PT), and Academic Professionals (APs): This is a concept introduced by FFAP that would decrease the distance between steps from 3.5% to 3%. This would result in a pay increase for everyone except those on the top step, with those on the bottom steps getting a higher percentage bump and each subsequent step getting a proportionally smaller increase. If you want to see how that would affect you, this spreadsheet shows the current steps compared to what your salary would be with step compression (in green.)  
  • COLAs for Faculty and APs: 1% in years 1&2, and 2% in years 3&4
  • COLAs for Classified: 3% in years 1&2, and 4% in years 3&4 (note that COLAs are higher for Classified in lieu of step compression.) 
  • $850,000 in professional development funds for PT faculty
  • $164,000 for changes in compensation structure for Faculty Department Chairs (background here)
  • PT faculty pay parity: over four years, increase the number of PT steps to 17 (from 11), with new steps to be 70% of FT faculty rate.  

The Federations appreciate the college’s movement on some issues, but we maintain:

  • The COLAs are too low
  • Professional development funding does not belong in a compensation package—it is the duty of the college to provide professional development opportunities to ALL employees.
  • FT faculty need a new top step
  • APs deserve compensation for the failed roll-out of AP Levels 6&7

Further, the total amount of the college’s offer actually decreased—from $54.6 million over four years to $48.6 million. In exchange for this, they offered to remove the conditions on the second biennium and work toward PT faculty pay parity. 

If you are feeling frustrated, angry, unheard, or exhausted by this drawn-out bargaining process, please join us for progressive picketing THURSDAY, Nov. 21. We are offering opportunities across the district for you to show your support for the bargaining team and demand a fair contract. 

The bargaining teams will convene again Friday afternoon. You can sign up to observe here

Please be in touch with any questions or feedback.

Progressive Picketing, Thursday Nov. 21

HELP US GET A SETTLEMENT NOW!  Please join both Federations for PROGRESSIVE PICKETING on Thursday, November 21, culminating in a strong presence at the PCC Board of Directors Meeting at Rock Creek campus. We will have opportunities to participate at every campus, plus Portland Metro Workforce Training Center. A schedule of events is below – we encourage you all to join us for the whole day or whenever you are able! RSVP here

  • 10:00 Meet at Southeast campus, Great Hall for rally/picket 
  • 11:05 Depart Southeast on the shuttle bus → Portland Metro Worksource Center (PMWC)
  • 11:20 Arrive PMWC, brief rally then back on the bus → Cascade
  • 11:30 Arrive Cascade for rally/picketing/lunch
  • 12:55 Depart Cascade on the shuttle bus→ Sylvania
  • 1:20 Arrive Sylvania for rally/picket
  • 3:00 Depart Sylvania on the shuttle bus→ Rock Creek for rally/picket
  • 3:15 Arrive Rock Creek for rally/picket
  • 5:30 Dinner provided at Rock Creek (TLC) 
  • 6:30 Board Meeting
  • 8:15 (est.) adjournment, special shuttle bus return to Southeast campus

At each stop, we will join members from that campus. Signs and chants will be provided as we march through campus demanding a fair contract. 

If you are interested in testifying, see here for some tips on effective testifying. And if you can’t make it to any of the picketing, be sure to wear your union blue on Thursday, November 21.

Bargaining Update #21

This is a brief update on bargaining and more importantly, A PLEA FOR EVERY MEMBER TO SHOW UP THIS THURSDAY, NOV. 21 FOR A FAIR CONTRACT!

First, the update: The two Federations exchanged proposals on Friday and we felt that good progress was made. Admin has been slowly increasing their COLA offer, and FFAP has been working on a phase-in option for some of our priorities. We have closed the gap from $40 million to less than $10 million between the two sides over four years. However, when it came time to schedule another meeting the admin team hedged. “What’s the point of another meeting?” they asked, while claiming that they have no more resources to offer. The Federations insisted that we should keep up the momentum, and we convinced them to schedule the next bargaining session for Friday Nov 22, 1pm to 5pm, CLIMB and Friday Dec 6, 1pm to 5pm, CLIMB. (Sign up to observe here.)

Note that if either side feels that progress is not being made, they can request a mediator at this point in bargaining. You can see here for more information on mediation, but the upshot is that mediation may or may not work to our advantage. And it will certainly slow down the process. At this rate, we won’t receive back pay until well into winter term.​ We’d prefer to get a contract done now, and we think we can, with your help! 

Progressive Picketing, Thursday Nov. 21

HELP US GET A SETTLEMENT NOW!  Please join both Federations for PROGRESSIVE PICKETING on Thursday, November 21, culminating in a strong presence at the PCC Board of Directors Meeting at Rock Creek campus. We will have opportunities to participate at every campus, plus Portland Metro Workforce Training Center. A schedule of events is below – we encourage you all to join us for the whole day or whenever you are able! RSVP here

  • 10:00 Meet at Southeast campus, Great Hall for rally/picket 
  • 11:05 Depart Southeast on the shuttle bus → Portland Metro Worksource Center (PMWC)
  • 11:20 Arrive PMWC, brief rally then back on the bus → Cascade
  • 11:30 Arrive Cascade for rally/picketing/lunch
  • 12:55 Depart Cascade on the shuttle bus→ Sylvania
  • 1:20 Arrive Sylvania for rally/picket
  • 3:00 Depart Sylvania on the shuttle bus→ Rock Creek for rally/picket
  • 3:15 Arrive Rock Creek for rally/picket
  • 5:30 Dinner provided at Rock Creek (TLC) 
  • 6:30 Board Meeting
  • 8:15 (est.) adjournment, special shuttle bus return to Southeast campus

At each stop, we will join members from that campus. Signs and chants will be provided as we march through campus demanding a fair contract. 

If you are interested in testifying, see here for some tips on effective testifying. And if you can’t make it to any of the picketing, be sure to wear your union blue on Thursday, November 21.

Tips for Effective Public Testimony

Are you considering testifying at a PCC Board of Directors meeting? Here are some tips for effectively communicating your message:

  • Hone your message. Testimony is limited to 2 minutes.
  • Introduce your self, and state your purpose. Example: My name is John Doe. I am a part-time biology instructor and I am here to ask you to support a fair contract.
  • Share your personal story. Example: My rent has increased by 50% in the last four years. I now work three jobs spend an average of 2 hours per day commuting between them.
  • Bridge to larger goals. Example: PCC relies heavily on part-time instructors who teach the majority of courses. We are on the front lines of providing equitable student success, and we can’t be effective if we are sleep-deprived, unable to afford housing, medical care, and other basic necessities.
  • Specific Ask: Please invest in part-time faculty with pay parity and a meaningful COLA.




Bargaining Update #20

On November 12, a workgroup consisting of FFAP and FCE bargaining team members and PCC administrators met for the third time. (Background on the workgroup can be found here.) Unfortunately, the workgroup did not result in much movement on either side. We return to the bargaining table this Friday, November 15. 

The main accomplishment of the group was the creation of a tool that allows us to cost out various scenarios in real time, as opposed to past practice in which entire bargaining sessions have been spent going back and forth over the cost of a proposal. We had hoped to use this tool to brainstorm different scenarios with the administrative team, and to that end the two federations produced several reasonable scenarios for funding all of our priorities—from a catch-up COLA to part time faculty pay equity to resolving the AP 6&7 debacle, to name just a few. (See here for a complete list.) By contrast, the administration presented only one scenario for modest COLAs over four years, and refused to entertain any scenario that was outside the bounds of what they deemed “reasonable.” 

We would love to pack the bargaining room with observers on Friday—admin needs to see our enthusiasm and our resolve to hold out for a fair contract. Sign up here to attend! Also, be sure to attend an upcoming campus meeting and have all your burning questions about bargaining answered by Federation leaders.