Top Ten Contract Articles – Article 7

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Article 7 describes hours of work, the rights of employees and the limitations on OHSU.

In this article the goal of our union, generally, is to provide members with tools to obtain the most predictable and consistent work schedule possible. This is important to maintaining a good work/life balance. OHSU feels economic pressure to keep staffing as low as possible in order to control labor costs; its interest is to be able to move employees around and change schedules to meet workload needs. When OHSU talks about “flexibility,” this is what they mean.

There is much in this article that we won’t be able to cover in a one-page tip sheet, but here are the most important highlights (along with the number of the section of our contract where the language appears):

  • It’s possible to place employees on recurring 8-, 10- or 12-hour days. Any regular shift longer than 12 hours cannot be imposed without the consent of the member and our union. [7.2.1]
  • Currently, split shifts are not allowed. If OHSU wants to start using split shifts, it must bargain with our union. [7.2.2]
  • Alternative schedules to meet special needs are permitted if the employee and OHSU agree. [7.2.3]
  • Flexible start and stop times may be available if the member and OHSU agree to a waiver of daily overtime. These waivers are strictly voluntary and are not/may not be required by the employer. The waivers may also be withdrawn at any time by either party. [7.2.4]
  • Work schedules must be posted 28 days in advance. Once posted, they may not be changed without written notice to our union and the member. [7.2.5 – 7.2.7]
  • Part-time employees may not work more than 8 consecutive days except during unforeseen circumstances in which they may work 10 consecutive days. [7.2.9]
  • If an employee’s shift is canceled and s/he is not notified before reporting to work, the employee is guaranteed 4 hours of pay. [7.3]
  • There is a specific order in which employees must be offered extra work. [7.4]
  • Employees are guaranteed a rest and meal period — it is the supervisor’s responsibility to make these available. [7.5 & 7.6]
  • You may be eligible for penalty pay if you do not get enough time off between shifts. [7.7]
  • Employees are allowed to trade shifts with other employees. [7.10]
  • Employees have important rights when OHSU closes parts of its operations due to inclement weather. [7.12]

This doesn’t cover everything in Article 7 — to fully understand your rights, please read the contract language (available in the Your Union Contract tab at www.local328.org) or contact one of our stewards for assistance.

Local 328 Builds Workplace Equity Through Educational Opportunities

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by Kate Baker, Local 328 Staff Representative

In developing priorities for the 2015 contract negotiations, AFSCME Local 328 identified that there were significant barriers for lower-wage workers wanting to access educational programs needed to advance within OHSU, which disproportionally affected underrepresented employees. Our union brought the issue of workforce development for low-wage earners to the bargaining table. During negotiations, Local 328 and OHSU formally agreed that recruitment and retention of a more diverse workforce is a priority for both organizations.

As a result, the parties formed the Community Employment Committee, consisting of equal representation from union leadership and OHSU management. The committee is focused on serving AFSCME-represented OHSU employees who are historically underserved and diverse in a variety of ways, including race, ethnicity, veteran status, disability, LGBTQ status and economic hardship. Together, Local 328 and OHSU are coming together to build equity within the workforce through education and new opportunities.

Since its formation, the committee has developed a strategic plan to achieve shared goals of increasing career-development opportunities for employees. One element of that strategic plan has come together in the form of grant funding through the U.S. Department of Labor’s NW Promise diversity grant. This grant will provide forty AFSCME represented employees with free job training for certain positions that require certification, support for testing and a program coach. Eligible employees can receive training in the following jobs:

  • Certified Nursing Assistant 1 and 2
  • Medical Assistant
  • Medical Coding Specialist
  • Patient Access Services Specialist
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • Sterile Processing Technician 2

Chinetta Montgomery, former Local 328 Vice President and one of the leaders on the Community Employment Committee, said: “Collectively our local leadership decided that equity and inclusion should be a bargaining priority in all future contacts starting in 2015. During that bargaining cycle, we addressed many different issues that impacted our bargaining unit including workforce development. It took many conversations internally at our local and with our employer but collectively we reached an agreement that is centered on providing opportunities to our underserved members in AFSCME. ”

The committee has been reviewing applications from more than 200 employees and is starting to announce the recipients.

Contract bargaining is about more than just cost-of-living increases and controlling health-insurance premiums — it’s also about establishing innovative programs to better serve our members and local community. Local 328 looks forward to our 2019 contract negotiations and assuring that our members’ needs are responded to.

What Are The “Top Ten” Contract Articles?

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As we prepare for contract bargaining, let’s start taking a deeper look at our contract.

The contract between AFSCME Local 328 and OHSU is a document of about 150 pages, including appendices, letters of agreement and memoranda of understanding. It’s a lot of reading. The core of the contract has 28 articles.

Below is a list of the ten most important contract articles. While there are other extremely important articles not on this list, such as Article 15 – Insurance Benefits, some articles have a more immediate impact on your work life than others. Our union is highlighting these 10 articles because they most affect your day-to-day working conditions. We recommend you read them.

Listed in order of their appearance in the contract, the top ten articles of our contract are:

  • Article 7 – Hours Of Work: Types of work schedules, schedule changes, reporting pay, rest and meal periods, on-call, shift trades, cleanup time, inclement weather.
  • Article 8 – Compensation: Pay schedule, pay increases, merit pay, bonuses, travel pay and expenses, pay upon upward or downward reclassification.
  • Article 9 – Overtime and Premium Pay: Overtime, calculation of overtime, call-back pay, changes in reporting time, pay for holiday work.
  • Article 11 – Holidays: List of holidays, holiday pay, holiday work schedules
  • Article 12 – Vacations: Vacation accrual rates, vacation bid/scheduling process, voluntary cash-out of vacation time.
  • Article 13 – Sick Leave: Sick-leave accrual rates, use of sick leave, doctor’s notes, reasonable grounds, restoration of sick leave, effect on retirement.
  • Article 18 – Filling of Vacancies: Job bids, job postings, internal preference, training positions, OHSU’s right to assign work and change duties.
  • Article 19 – Layoff: Order of layoffs, placement and recall rights, geographical limitations.
  • Article 23 – Discipline and Discharge: Progressive discipline, right to notice of investigative meeting, right to representation, right to just cause for discipline.
  • Article 24 – Grievances and Arbitration: Grievance process, timelines, selection of arbitrators.

Over the next couple of weeks we will be posting a more detailed look at each of these articles. Use the comment section to leave feedback and suggestions about the articles.

Building Our Union At West Campus

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by Nicole Meck, West Campus Unit Steward

I knew our West Campus had only one union steward so I asked to become a unit steward.  I was lucky that this prompted five of my coworkers to also become unit stewards so we are on our way to making the west campus AFSCME strong.

I like to accomplish things and feel as though I make a difference.  I’m excited by all the opportunities available to me through our union. I feel there are many ways to do this with my union work.  I am hoping to be an asset to my coworkers and to our local 328 Executive Board. I want to continue to learn all I can from our many talented staff and board members.

I work out on OHSU’s west campus at the Oregon National Primate Research Center as a Laboratory Animal Technician 2.  I perform husbandry for our breeding colony.  We have a large campus full of wonderful employees who are all dedicated to the animals we are entrusted with caring for daily.

I was getting very frustrated with our national political climate and wanting to do something but I wasn’t sure what I could do to make a difference. I was tired of clicking a button to show support or marching for this cause or that reason. I wanted to just do more.  I knew I had to find some way to feel more involved.

This is the first job I’ve had where I got to be part of a union.

I began to spend time in the evenings looking over our various AFSCME web sites including Local 328, Council 75, and AFSCME national web pages.  I found many interesting things on these pages.  I was able to read the local 328 news and happenings.  On our council page I found information about PERS, legislation and saw all the committees we have the ability to be on as union members.

I even used our AFSCME Auto Advantage when buying my new car.  I was excited that all this was available to me by just being a union member. When coworkers began asking me questions about our contract, I asked to become a unit steward.  This prompted five of my coworkers to also become unit stewards at the same time.  Our campus had only one steward at the time we were now on our way to building a AFSCME strong group at our west campus.

Since becoming a unit steward I have been to be invited participate in the AFSCME Emerging Leaders program.   I have had a great time learning more about what being a union leader and activist can accomplish.

AFSCME invited me to participate in the lost time program.  During this time I have been working on converting fair share payers to dues members on the West Campus and am proud to say, with the help of the other unit stewards, we have converted many coworkers.  I have also been working on getting AFSCME Strong bulletin boards up in all the work areas so all our members can be kept up to date on the latest news and happenings from AFSCME and our Local.

I had the wonderful experience of getting to work with the AFSCME International team during AFSCME strong week.  I learned so much from this group of talented people.  We knocked on doors to talk to Multnomah county workers about their upcoming contract vote and to make sure they were current dues members so they would get to vote for their contract.

I have also had the pleasure of working with many of the Council 75 and Local 328 staff and have been learning much about our union structure and work that AFSCME does to continue keep us strong.  I’m very excited to have been voted to the local 328 board as At-Large Position 15 and I’m looking forward to learning how I can best serve my west campus coworkers in this position.

I’m excited for the start of our contract negotiations and looking forward to watching how the process goes and getting my brothers and sisters from the west campus excited about and hopefully included in this exciting process.

Biometric screening and the 5% surcharge

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The biggest challenge the Employee Benefits Council faces is keeping health care affordable while maintaining and even increasing the benefits available under the plan. It’s a constant process of looking at what people really use, what is cost effective to provide and bearing in mind that even small increases in costs can have disproportionate impacts on lower wage workers.

OHSU is self-insured and our health insurance rates are a direct result of usage plus an administration fee. There’s really nothing else to it. The more the health plan is used the more it costs.

The less healthy we are, the more we use the plan, and costs go up.

There are many approaches to having a healthier workforce – providing tools for chronic disease management, smoking cessation programs, encouraging exercise and healthier eating.

Another way to contain costs is by early detection of risk factors which may be treated before they escalate to far more expensive illnesses.

Early treatment of high blood pressure with medication is far less expensive than treating stroke victims in the ICU, for one example.

In order to encourage early detection the EBC has agreed that by getting a simple biometric screening, plan participants will be exempted from a 5% surcharge on health benefits.

The biometric screening that will be available would cost about $100 if the test was done on normal PPO insurance. Plan members will not be charged for the screening. The screening we are using is designed to be as noninvasive as possible and still get enough information to aid in early detection and prevention of chronic illness.

The health information obtained by the screening is not accessible by OHSU, they will not get any of the results.

We value our members’ health and we know that we can best provide health insurance security for members and their families into the future by having a healthier workforce.

Regular screenings are an important part of a plan for personal self care. We are also trying to encourage healthy eating by offering free salads to employees once a month in the hope that this one meal will start to raise awareness of the critical role of diet in long term health.

By getting a simple biometric screening you can avoid the 5% surcharge and take a major step toward protecting your health

Local 328 President’s Message On The Freedom Foundation

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Greetings Brothers and Sisters of AFSCME Local 328,

Everyone should have a received an email from OHSU informing you that the Freedom Foundation submitted a public-information request and that OHSU was required to turn over some of your information. Some of you are familiar with the Freedom Foundation, while others may not be. Either way, you probably have questions.

What information did OHSU provide?

OHSU is legally required to share your first and last name, middle initial, work address and work email address. Local 328 recognizes that OHSU didn’t have a choice in this matter, and we appreciate both the invitation to discuss this matter prior to the release of the information and OHSU’s notice to employees that an outside party will receive their contact information.

What is the Freedom Foundation?

The Freedom Foundation is a libertarian organization with offices based in Washington, Oregon and California. It receives funding from the likes of the Walton Family (Walmart), the Koch brothers and the legislative group ALEC (which focuses on banning living wages, privatizing schools, attacking voter rights and advocating for the private prison industry). The Freedom Foundation’s CEO’s stated goal is …”bankrupting and defeating government unions through education, litigation, legislation and community activation.” As public employees at OHSU, our members are now targets of this organization.

Didn’t the union already hold a vote on changing their nonprofit status to protect member information?

There is a difference between a disgruntled member of a huge non-profit demanding a list of confidential information for every represented individual vs. a nefarious organization submitting an information request to a public entity.

Local 328 and Council 75 members voted to set new parameters on who can handle your private information internally, but that vote doesn’t supersede the law.

What should we expect?

It is extremely likely that the Freedom Foundation will be running the data that OHSU gives them through various databases to determine your home address. We know that they have already visited Oregon AFSCME members from other local unions. Freedom Foundation representatives may show up at your home and, through a variety of distorted positions (or outright lies), attempt to convince you drop your union membership.

Why are they doing this?

The Freedom Foundation is part of an extremely well-financed and well-coordinated assault on working people. If they are successful in their end goal of eliminating public-sector unions, the quality of life for working people will diminish, whether they are represented by a union or not.

Labor unions were instrumental in passing a variety of progressive laws on the west coast. Every state has a strong minimum-wage law and a paid-sick-leave law. Contrast that with “right to work” state Idaho, where minimum wage is still stuck at $7.25 and there is no requirement for employers to provide employees with paid or even unpaid (but still protected) sick leave.

With the national decimation of the public-sector unions, private-sector unions would soon face the same fate. (Just look at what happened in Wisconsin.) With no advocates and no ability to collectively bargain, workers will find themselves losing more and more as we enter a national race to the bottom in terms of wages and benefit standards. Imagine a world in which employers and the very wealthy don’t need to negotiate with their workers and any worker who has a problem with that is terminated as an at-will employee. This is exactly the scenario that the Freedom Foundation is trying to achieve for its corporate masters.

So what can we do?

A variety of things!

  • Know the value of your union! Wages, vacation accruals, sick leave, swing- and graveyard-shift differentials, holiday pay, retirement, health-care benefits, your ability to file a grievance over unfair working conditions — ALL of these things and more are jeopardized without your union.
  • If you’re not already a member, sign a membership card online here. The higher our membership numbers, the stronger the message we send that we will not be divided. (This sends a similar message to OHSU, which is very timely given we’re bargaining next year.)
  • Should the Freedom Foundation visit you at your home, know that they don’t have any right to be there against your wishes. Tell them to leave. Call the police and report harassment if needed.
  • Talk to your coworkers. Maybe they received one of these visits. Maybe they take for granted what our contract does for us.
  • Talk to your unit steward. If you don’t have a unit steward in your department, please consider becoming that contact. Email Andy Chavira at Achavira@oregonafscme.org  for more information.

In closing, remember we are all in this together. As we enter a new era of corporate and political attempts to sabotage organized labor, we stand tall.

Our members are keenly aware that no one individual is responsible for our success. Through collective action and caring about each other, we lift each other up and support ideals that leave the world a better place. It’s been said that the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing. Your local leadership doesn’t have that fear, because we see good people (our members) doing something every single day.

We reject the Freedom Foundation. We reject what they stand for and the world they want to create. We are stronger together.

Thank you, in solidarity,

Matt Hilton, President

AFSCME Local 328

Why We Do Politics

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by Michael Stewart, Local 328 Vice President

One of the most common concerns I hear as a Local 328 member leader is “I don’t like that our union is involved in politics!” or “I don’t like that our union endorsed a particular candidate.” As much as we would like to avoid politics and the difficulties and polarization that come with it, the truth is that politics is a vital part of what our union does. Not because we choose it to be, but for simple survival and to meet the needs of our members. Examples of how politics on all levels directly affects working families (whether union or non-union) are numerous.

Since the elections of 2010, we have witnessed the targeting of public-employee unions by then newly elected governors and legislatures across the country. Wisconsin and Iowa stand as stark examples of what is at stake for the working class when we fail to directly take on the political threats to our wages, benefits and right to collectively bargain. Anti-worker legislators and governors swept into office in both states. As soon as they were sworn in, they jammed through, often without so much as a public hearing, bills that eliminated fair-share fees, forced yearly recertification of unions, barred automatic dues payments and severely limited or eliminated collective contract bargaining. How has this affected the working families in these areas?

In an article for The Atlantic about the effects of Act 10 in Wisconsin, Alana Semuels discusses how the reduction in union power has affected the middle class. For example, one married couple (both teachers) saw their combined wages decrease by 11%. Overall, teachers have seen an 8% decrease in total compensation. Some teachers have had to take second jobs or leave the field all together. This worsened an already growing teacher shortage in the state. Public employees across the state have suffered similarly. A restriction on the right to collectively bargain wage increases so that they only match the rate of inflation has reduced the upward pressure on wages in the private sector, leading to a flattening of wages and an increase of income inequality within the state.

Oregon AFSCME has a robust and active political department consisting of paid staff and volunteer member leaders, with a very successful PEOPLE program that helps fund our work. As such, we have been mostly successful in helping elect pro-worker legislators and defeating anti-worker candidates and initiatives. I say “mostly” because, despite our union’s best efforts, we have seen the ugly face of anti-worker politics within our own state. In Lane County, where many employees’ wages were as much as 25% below market, management demanded that employees pay more for health insurance and retirement benefits; couple with anemic wage increases, this would have amounted to a decrease in employees’ take-home pay. These unfair demands were not due to a lack of money on the part of the county, but to the political philosophy of a few of the commissioners, one of whom is a Scott Walker protégé. Yamhill County narrowly escaped striking over many of the same demands and conditions of the Lane County strike.

With so much of the well-being of our members and our members’ families riding on the policies and legislation of our governor, legislators, county commissioners and other elected officials, it would be negligent for AFSCME not to be involved in determining who will write policies and legislation as well as helping shape the content of these policies. In my next article I will detail the process used by our union when we endorse a pro-worker candidate, how our fellow members educate elected officials about the work we do and how their legislation impacts that work and how we stay effective despite opposition.

 

Bargaining Timeline

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It may seem early to be talking about bargaining, but to bargain effectively requires a lot of planning and preparation. Here’s a look at a general timeline for our upcoming contract.

When we bargain a contract there are timelines that must be met due to contractual or legal requirements and timelines that we set for ourselves to insure an orderly and strategic progression through the bargaining process.

Our contract expires on June 30, 2019. Settlement could happen on or before that date but our experience tells us that we usually settle in July or August.  Bullets  highlight critical events.

Spring 2017 – Mid-term membership survey by polling firm.

Summer/Fall 2017 – Establish member action team.

Fall 2017 – Begin member education program about bargaining which will continue through bargaining.

Summer 2018 – Nominate bargaining team.

Summer 2018 – Bargaining team candidate panels/campaign.

  • Summer/Fall 2018 – Elect bargaining team.

Summer/Fall 2018 – Train bargaining team.

Fall 2018 – Member forums, informal and formal surveys, unit steward hosted lunch and learns.

Fall/Winter 2018/19 – Work with polling company to develop comprehensive bargaining survey based on member, bargaining team, leadership and staff input.

Winter 2019 – Deploy professional survey.

February 2019 – Pre bargaining discussions with OHSU.

  • March 2019 – Bargaining begins.

March – July 2019 – Weekly, all day, bargaining sessions.

March 2019 – State mediation pre-requested to meet statutory 150 day notice requirement.

  • June 30 2019 – Contract expires.

June – July 2019 – Contract placed in final form and proofread, if settlement has been reached

June – July 2019 – Member ratification vote, if settlement has been reached

  • If Settlement has not been reached then:

July – August 2019 – Mediation, if required.

July – August 2019 – Notice of declaration of impasse, if required

August – September 2019 – Notice of declaration of 30 day cooling off period, if required.

Summer/Fall 2019 – Job actions and picketing, if required

  • August – October 2019 – 10 day strike notice, if required
  • Summer/Fall 2019 – Strike, if required.

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