Bargaining FAQ

What is collective bargaining?

Collective bargaining is the formal process of negotiation between PCC Administration and PCC Federation of Classified Employees (PCCFCE). This takes the form of two "Bargaining Teams", one representing members of our bargaining unit and one representing the PCC Board of Directors. It sets the terms and conditions of our work, including pay and benefits. Collective bargaining results in a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), also known as the Classified Agreement, frequently referred to simply as “the contract.”

The contract is a legally binding agreement that lays out policies and rights agreed to by PCC administration and PCCFCE. If you peruse the table of contents, you’ll see that it also includes provisions addressing compensation, benefits, absences and leaves, and even parking! The contract also outlines the grievance procedure - a process for resolving disputes between management and PCCFCE members over interpretation of the contract and in the event of employee discipline or termination.

Why is collective bargaining important for PCCFCE members?

Most PCC employees do not have the knowledge, skills, or time - let alone the power - to negotiate the terms of their employment beyond the initial salary placement, especially when state legislatures in Oregon and throughout the country are trying to balance their budgets on the backs of public employees. Collective bargaining provides PCCFCE members with a powerful collective voice to demand fair wages, benefits, and working conditions at PCC, and protection to do so without fear of retaliation.

When does collective bargaining occur at PCC?

The Federation of Classified Employees (FCE) and PCC administration typically full contract negotiations addressing salary, benefits, and working conditions every four years. We began our full contract negotiations in January 2019, and negotiations are actively occurring now.

During the second year of the four-year contract, the two sides typically have what is known as a a wages and benefits re-opener, usually referred to simply as a “re-opener.” These are scaled-down negotiations where only salary and benefits (not working conditions/contract language) are bargained for the remaining two years of the contract. This gives both sides some flexibility to address changes in revenue, enrollment, or cost of living, especially since the budget of both PCC and the State of Oregon are biennial The next re-opener would typically happen in spring 2021.

Who can collectively bargain?

PCC employees’ rights to collective bargaining are established by The Oregon Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act (PECBA), which was signed into law in 1973 and gives public employees in Oregon the right to form, join, and participate in labor unions.

Our union, PCCFCE, includes all Classified Employees, both full and part-time. Faculty as well as salaried professional staff known as Academic Professionals (or "AP"s) are represented by a separate union, the PCC Federation of Faculty and Academic Professionals (PCCFFAP). FCE and FFAP work closely together during bargaining to ensure the process includes gains for all union-represented employees at PCC.

We often receive questions about casual workers at PCC. Because they are a separate employee class (not Classified, Faculty or Academic Professionals), they are not represented by either FCE or FFAP, though under PECBA they have the right to establish their own bargaining unit. In fact, the designation between Classified and Casual employees is simply a matter of the number of hours worked in a fiscal year, and if a Casual Employee works 600 or more hours in one job, they automatically become part of the bargaining unit for the remainder of the year, and permanent Classified Employees if it happens 2 years ina row. This is a subject of concern for many of us who work closely with PCC’s casual staff and see the growth in casual positions as a loophole used by administration to avoid paying fair wages and benefits.

It is interesting to note that three states (North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia) prohibit collective bargaining among public employees, and Texas and Georgia do not allow collective bargaining for teachers. The right to collectively bargain is considered a fundamental human right by the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

What topics can PCCFCE members bargain over?

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is the federal agency charged with enforcing labor law in the U.S. The NLRB divides bargaining subjects into three categories:

 - Mandatory subjects include wages, hours, benefits, grievance and arbitration procedures, working conditions, contract length, seniority, and strikes. PCC administration cannot make a change in any of these areas without providing prior notice to PCCFCE and an opportunity to bargain over the change.

 - Permissive subjects are those which employers are not required to bargain, but which may be bargained if both sides agree. These include things like class size, school calendar, assessment, curriculum, dress codes, and student discipline procedures.

 - Illegal subjects include any topic or issue that is contrary to established state or federal law.

What happens when administration and PCCFCE can’t reach an agreement?

If PCC administration and PCCFCE do not reach an agreement during the first 150 days of direct bargaining (We passed that milestone in October 2019), we could move to mediation. Oregon law dictates that mediation continue for 15 days, after which the two sides may continue in mediation or either party can declare an impasse. Once an impasse is declared, both parties submit their final offers, and a 30-day “cooling off period” follows.

In the next and final step in the collective bargaining process, the PCC administration can choose to implement their final offer, and PCCFCE can exercise our right to strike. (Note that the no-strike clause in our contract expired with the end of the contract - June 30, 2019.) One definition of a strike is "employees collectively withholding their labor in response to inadequate wages or working conditions." In other words, if they don't pay us enough, we won't come to work!