Broad gains in new PCC faculty contract


The union that represents more than 1,500 Portland Community College (PCC) faculty and academic professionals reached tentative agreement on a new union contract Jan. 29, the Monday after a rally where members hinted they were ready to strike. If ratified as expected, the four-year agreement would provide a 14% cost of living raise over the next two years for all members of the Portland Community College Faculty Federation and Academic Professionals (PCCFFAP), also known as American Federation of Teachers Local 2277.

PCCFFAP represents the college’s faculty, as well as academic professionals like admissions counselors, accountants, and academic advisors.

The first raise, a 6% boost, would be retroactive to the last contract’s Sept. 1, 2023, expiration date. The second, an 8% hike, would take effect September 2024.

On top of that, faculty members who taught in the fall 2023 or winter 2024 semesters would get a lump sum payment of about $700 (the total depends on how many members are eligible for payments), while academic professionals would earn a one-time $1,000 bonus. The agreement also includes a “wage opener” in 2025, so PCCFFAP can negotiate additional raises in the last two years of the contract.

Hundreds of PCC faculty, academic professionals, students, and union supporters gathered Jan. 28 at Terry Schrunk Plaza in downtown Portland for a ‘Break the Dam’ rally backing the union’s fight for a fair contract. The PCCFFAP bargaining team had been prepared to declare impasse the next day, but the college returned with an updated agreement. | Photo by Rami Elmongi

PCC also agreed to pay more toward monthly health insurance premiums, provide more leniency for remote work, and begin talking about a “shared governance framework” where PCCFFAP members would be consulted on changes at the college. For example, during the pandemic, PCC launched its “One Together, Together One” campaign and changed how academic advisors are paired with students, said Michelle DuBarry, union spokesperson and a grant writer at the college. Instead of working with students from the same academic program that the advisors specialized in on the campus they worked at, each advisor became a generalist that worked with students across the entire college system.

“Some of them now have 800 or 900 active students on their caseload. There’s just no way they can meet students’ needs if they have that many students who need advising,” DuBarry said. “Our thinking was that if we had some kind of formal shared governance structure so we were in the room when those decisions were being made, we would be able to explain to administrators why certain things don’t make sense.”

The tentative agreement contains major improvements for part-time faculty, who make up more than half the bargaining unit. It raises part-time faculty pay to 75% of the full-time rates for any given class, up from 70% previously.

PCC Newberg Center writing instructor Chris Nordquist usually teaches two courses per term as a part-time faculty member. She said the pay scale increase will boost her typical pay to about $38,000 per year, up from about $30,000.

“I’ve had times where I had to go on food stamps because classes were cut last minute,” Nordquist said.

Under the new agreement, if a part-time faculty member’s classes are canceled, they will be paid for a week of teaching or about a tenth of the overall wages for the course. Before, they’d only get paid for one day.

The agreement also establishes seniority for part-time workers and ends their status as “at will” employees that can be fired without cause. PCC has to call them back if there are classes available for them to teach, give longer-serving faculty first choice for which classes they teach, and give part-time faculty preference over outside applicants when they apply for a full-time position.

PCCFFAP started bargaining with PCC in February 2023, and the union asked for a state mediator to help in December. In November, more than 700 union members signed a pledge to vote “yes” for a strike if no agreement could be reached.

The union had planned to declare an impasse in negotiations, the first step toward striking for public sector unions in Oregon, but administrators updated their proposal.

Ratification ended Feb. 14, after our press deadline, but it was expected to pass.


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