All posts by Jennifer Barker

Bargaining-Session Update: May 14 Economic Counterproposals

Today was our final day at the table before mediation starts next week. As the expiration date of our current contract draws closer, it’s more important than ever that our members are paying attention to bargaining and participating in bargaining-related activities:

    • Take our bargaining survey to give our union direction during mediation and let us know your thoughts re: settling vs. striking.
    • Attend our town hall on Wednesday, May 22, from 12 noon to 1:00 p.m. in UHS 8B60.
    • Attend our informational picket and BBQ! Join your coworkers at this family-friendly event on Thursday, June 13, at 4:00 p.m. This march will be one of the best tools we have, short of a strike, to show OHSU the strength of our opposition to the take-backs it has proposed. 
    • Start thinking about what you’re willing to do to prevent OHSU’s bad proposals from going into effect. OHSU proposes financial take-backs every contract because it thinks our members will just accept it, but you have the power to tell OHSU that enough is enough. Read our strike FAQ and then read our “S Word” article for steps you can take now to prepare financially in the event our union goes on strike.

Buckle up — today OHSU finally responded to our economic proposals. (See our April 2 and April 9 bargaining updates for details about our proposals.) It’s not good news:

    • 7.7 Time Off Between Regularly Scheduled Shifts: OHSU rejected our proposal.
    • 8.2.2 Longevity Rate: OHSU rejected our proposal.
    • 9.1.4 Scheduling & Assignment of Overtime: OHSU countered our proposal for penalty pay after an employee works more than 16 hours in a 24-hour period by stipulating that this additional pay would be applicable after 16 consecutive hours.
    • Weekend Differential: OHSU rejected our proposal.
    • Float Differential: OHSU rejected our proposal.
    • Advanced Certification Differential: OHSU rejected our proposal.
    • Preceptor Work: OHSU rejected our proposal.
    • 22.1.3 Tuition Discounts: OHSU rejected our proposal.
    • 22.2 Requirements of Job Position: OHSU rejected our proposal.
    • 28 Labor Management Committee: OHSU approved funding to maintain Labor Management Committee activities (including the Career and Workplace Enhancement Center) for three years.
    • Appendix A: Contract Variations Applicable to Salaried Employees: OHSU rejected our proposal.
    • Free TriMet Bus Passes: OHSU rejected our proposal, but offered to not increase the cost of TriMet passes for AFSCME employees for the duration of the new contract.
    • PERS Pension Rates: OHSU rejected our proposal.
    • 403(b) Contribution Match: OHSU rejected our proposal.
    • 8.1 Across the Board Increases: OHSU proposed an effective 1.0% raise for each year of a three-year contract. We say “an effective 1.0%” here because OHSU proposed 1.5% increases, but would withhold 0.5% to help address its pay inequities. It also proposed additional pay increases for employees who make $19.23/hour or less.

In addition to rejecting our economic proposals, OHSU is standing firm on its insurance take-backs and its unpopular PTO proposal, making some small movements in a few areas. Check out the details here.

During its presentation this afternoon, OHSU made it clear that it (a) doesn’t feel its current financial position is as exceptional as we do, (b) feels that members of our bargaining unit are compensated well above market and (c) feels that its proposed insurance take-backs are modest and that our insurance benefits will remain “rich” even after the take-backs. Undoubtedly, OHSU’s bargaining-update email will contain bells and whistles to convince our members that it can’t afford any of our economic proposals and that what it has proposed is all that our members deserve (or don’t deserve). Do you agree? How would your pay be affected if all of OHSU’s proposals went into effect as they currently stand?

OHSU’s compensation FAQ states that “Many people choose to work at OHSU because they believe in its mission. When people look at the pay and benefits at OHSU, and consider the chance to do meaningful, rewarding work, the clear choice should be to join — and stay — at OHSU.” It actually seems as if the employer expects us to stay at OHSU merely for the chance to do meaningful work, rather than for pay that keeps up with the cost of living and benefits that are affordable. As you ponder the above and perhaps wonder why OHSU doesn’t seem to value the work done by AFSCME-represented employees, you should know that OHSU executives received $1.4 million in bonuses in 2018 — in addition to their $30 million in base pay. (A copy of the article from the Lund Report will be attached to today’s bargaining-update email.)

Finally, and we can’t stress this enough: If you are upset by OHSU’s take-backs and its rejection of our economic proposals, you must act to keep them from becoming reality: take the survey, show up at the town hall, show up at the informational picket and make sure your coworkers know about the type of contract OHSU is proposing for us. OHSU is counting on its assumption that our members aren’t willing to withhold their labor for a short time in order to win a fair contract — will you prove OHSU wrong? We need to tell OHSU “enough is enough” now.

Bargaining-Session Update: May 14 Counterproposals and Tentative Agreements

In addition to the counterproposals to Local 328’s economic proposals, management’s team also presented the following counterproposals:

    • PTO Package: OHSU made some movement here, primarily in the area of voluntary cash-out. Last week we proposed a cash-out of up to 80 hours; OHSU today countered with a cash-out of 40 hours or 80 hours.
    • 15.2.1 Insurance Contributions: OHSU continues to propose cutting its insurance contribution to 95% for employee-only coverage and to 83% for other coverages, but now only if the employee makes more than $19.23/hour.
    • 15.2.3 Maximum Annual Contribution Increase: OHSU has not moved in this area. Currently, premium increases of up to 10% are covered by the employer. OHSU continues to propose reducing that to 5%, meaning that employees would have to pay for any premium increases over that amount.
    • Spousal Surcharge: OHSU continues to propose a $100/month spousal surcharge for employees whose spouses use OHSU health insurance as their primary coverage instead of the insurance offered by their own employers, but now only if the employee makes more than $19.23/hour.
    • Appendix C — Employee Benefits Council: OHSU has not moved in this area. Currently, the EBC must come to a collaborative agreement before OHSU can make significant changes to our benefits plan design, in a model that’s worked well for decades. OHSU is proposing removing the EBC’s decision-making power so that benefits changes will be decided by a single executive. This would mean that OHSU could ultimately disregard its employees’ voices when making changes to benefits.
    • 5.28 Relief Employees: OHSU continues to propose that relief employees be available to work between two and six hours (a change from the current four hours) on either a pre- or post-schedule basis, but stated a willingness to work together on the matter.
    • 7.4 Availability of Additional Work: OHSU continues to propose language that would allow managers to not go by seniority when assigning work to cover a short-notice call-out (e.g., someone calling in sick).
    • 18.1.1 Posting and Awarding of Position: OHSU continues to reject our proposal to give salaried employees the option to convert to hourly when bidding on a position.
    • 23.1.2 Suspension of Seniority Rights: OHSU continues to reject our proposal to strike this language. (This language has only been used a couple of times over the course of a four-year contract, so Local 328 feels there isn’t a need for it to remain in the contract.)

In the afternoon, Local 328 re-presented our previous counterproposals, rejecting OHSU’s insurance take-backs.

A word about the $19.23/hour threshold that OHSU has proposed for a number of its proposals: Our union is glad that OHSU has recognized that its insurance take-backs would be especially hard on the lowest-paid members of our bargaining unit. However, we continue to believe that these take-backs are unnecessary for any of our members given OHSU’s record financial success. Our union represents all employees in the bargaining unit and we don’t support a two-tier system that would divide our members. We are stronger together. This article explains how employers often propose different benefits and compensation for different sets of employees within a bargaining unit, in an effort to weaken the union by driving a wedge between workers.  

Local 328 and OHSU reached tentative agreements today on the following sections of the contract:

    • 15.1.1/15.1.4/15.1.5/15.3/15.3.1 Eligibility & Default Coverage — These sections relate to the default coverage for benefits for new employees. New employees with an FTE of 0.75 or greater will be automatically enrolled in employee-only OHSU PPO, Delta dental, core vision and core life insurance and will have 31 days from hire to update their benefits as they choose. Employees with an FTE of less than 0.75 will not be automatically enrolled, but if they don’t make a benefits selection within 31 days, then they will be enrolled into the above default benefits.
    • 15.2 Insurance Contributions — This section has been updated with definitions of full-time and part-time employees.
    • 15.2.4 Employee Premium Deduction — This section has been updated with a change to when insurance premiums are deducted from employees’ pay. This is change essentially reflects current practice.
    • 18.1.2 Placement/18.2.4 Provisions Applicable to Internal Applicants Only — Our contract will retain the language stating that employees will be placed into new internal positions no later than four weeks after being selected for a position. Employees will have the option to negotiate a different timeline upon request.

OHSU’s Pay-Equity Package Proposal

Many of you may be wondering the status of the pay-equity package OHSU proposed on April 23. OHSU presented the package as its solution to legal requirements of Oregon’s Pay Equity Law that went into effect on January 1. A copy of OHSU’s full proposal will be attached to today’s bargaining-update email. Components of this package include:

  • Suspending annual reviews done by the Market-Based Wage Committee for the duration of the new contract.
  • Changing the pay rate associated with voluntary and involuntary demotions,  with promotions and lateral transfers and with upward, downward and lateral reclassifications.
  • Eliminating progression increases in some cases.
  • Holding back from any across-the-board increases, for the duration of the contract, the equivalent of 0.5% of the bargaining unit’s base wages “in order to address pay equity.”

If you review the information at the link above, you will note that the law is intended to protect employees who are members of a protected class. OHSU has not been using the term “protected class” in its rationale at the bargaining table or in its communications about this proposal, which Local 328 finds troubling. Our union is working with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries and with Oregon AFSCME’s legal staff to ensure that OHSU’s compliance with this law does not unnecessarily burden our members and that this proposal is not used as a means for OHSU to cut its payroll expenses. If OHSU has employees who have been underpaid due to their status as a member of a protected class, we strongly support the employer’s efforts to remedy this. We are opposed to the idea that OHSU should use our members’ pay to help it resolve possible discriminatory compensation practices.

We have not yet responded to OHSU’s proposal. We will share more information as soon as it becomes available. Please share your questions and concerns here in the meantime.

About OHSU’s May 10 Bargaining Update…

A number of our members have raised an eyebrow at some of OHSU’s communications, and management has taken exception to some of Local 328’s communications. This is to be expected during contract negotiations — both sides will, of course, present their proposals in a way that aims to persuade readers of the proposals’ merits. That being said, OHSU made a few points in its last bargaining update that we’d like to address:

  • OHSU stated that “AFSCME largely rejected OHSU’s PTO and related benefits proposals…” Of course we did! Our members have resoundingly said “No PTO” since 2017, so that will be our bargaining team’s position at the table. The “related benefits proposals” are take-backs (in a time of record prosperity for OHSU) that will hurt our members financially, so our union is going to fight them.
  • OHSU stated that it was “disappointed that AFSCME did not meaningfully engage with us to help create a more competitive and market-appropriate benefits system.” Our union, of course, wants OHSU to be and remain financially successful. That being said, we are bargaining for a fair contract for our members — that’s our priority. We are disappointed that OHSU has proposed so many unnecessary take-backs, and we don’t agree that it is Local 328’s responsibility to ensure that OHSU is “more competitive.” (In addition, it seems that OHSU focuses on making itself competitive for faculty recruitment, rather than in ways that would help our members.)
  • OHSU stated that AFSCME “rejected a pilot program to test out” a new system to increase paid and release hours for union executives. We believe this statement goes a bit beyond spin. OHSU had proposed a memorandum of understanding that outlined a concept in which OHSU would grant 40 hours of paid release time per week to be used by Local 328’s president, vice president and chief steward, in percentages determined by our union. We countered with a slightly tweaked version of the MOU, which included formatting changes as well as non-substantive changes such as referring to time spent “on matters undertaken at the behest of the Employer (e.g., appointment to and work done for Employer committees)” instead of “on matters directed by the committees of the Employer, or otherwise at the behest of the Employer.” We also proposed eliminating the language stating that MOU would expire two years after the effective date of the new contract. Local 328 did not “reject” OHSU’s proposal.
  • OHSU stated that our counterproposal “maintained the inequitable system of some stewards receiving overtime for union work, and others not.” This references OHSU’s proposal that the time spent by our stewards — time spent on work that benefits OHSU as well as our union — would no longer count toward overtime. None of our stewards have complained about the current system or stated that they’re concerned that the way they receive overtime is “inequitable,” so why has OHSU really proposed this? Our union has a number of concerns about this proposal — it would create financial hardship for many of our current stewards, would potentially dampen our union’s ability to recruit new stewards and could chill union activity. We remain strongly opposed to this proposal. (Note: Stewards are never paid overtime for their steward work; this proposal would affect their ability to earn overtime for OHSU work.)

Don’t Forget to Take Our Bargaining Survey!


If you haven’t already done so, please take our bargaining survey as soon as possible and make sure your coworkers know the importance of taking the survey. It should take less than 10 minutes to complete.

While we very much appreciate our members’ comments here on the blog, it’s the turn-out for and responses to this survey that will play a pivotal role in our union’s strategies at the bargaining table once we start mediation on May 21.

The “S Word”

—guest post by board member Christine Murray—

The stewards and member leaders of AFSCME Local 328 have received more than a few inquiries about the possibility of a strike. It’s not hard to see why after reviewing the proposals made by OHSU during bargaining. For most of our members, the idea of going on strike is uncharted territory and there are many questions. This article hopes to answer some of these questions and help our members make decisions about preparing for a possible strike.

The word “strike” is not one to be used lightly when a union is in negotiations with management. A strike is the most powerful tool our union has when it comes to forcing management to deal honestly and fairly with our membership. It is also a tool of last resort. There are still many weeks of negotiation ahead of us, and there are many other actions our union can take to put pressure on management and encourage OHSU to deal fairly with us.

Still, the possibility exists that OHSU will persist in offering us an unfair contract that increases our health-insurance costs (reduced premium contributions, spousal surcharge), reduces our vacation time and restricts our access to sick time (PTO), imposes a harsher attendance policy (three occurrences in a 160-day period may trigger discipline) and forces employees to stay in their old department for up to eight weeks before they can transfer to a new position at OHSU. OHSU might also continue to insist that the cost of correcting a history of inequitable pay for women and minorities should be borne by AFSCME members, in the form of denying us our earned progression increases and holding back a portion of our across-the-board raises. If this happens, our members will have to make some choices.

The first thing to know is that Local 328 leadership does not make the decision to strike. It is a decision we all make together as dues-paying members. When OHSU’s final proposal is offered to AFSCME, we will vote to accept it or reject it. This means that the most important thing our members can do to prepare is to stay informed about where our negotiations stand and be ready to vote when the time comes. Low turnout means that our members could wind up having to accept an inadequate contract they do not agree with and which hurts them financially. It is absolutely critical that all members vote both in the current bargaining survey and on the proposed contract later on!

The second thing to know is that every member needs to be preparing right now for the possibility of a strike. OHSU is already preparing. Yes, you read that right. OHSU is already making plans for a potential strike, so it is not enough for us to simply be angry about management’s proposed take-backs during a time of record profit. With $1.5 billion cash on hand, you can bet OHSU will be well prepared should it come to a strike — if we want to be successful, then we need to be prepared, too. The threat of a strike only has power if the members of Local 328 can and will carry out that threat — to do that we must stick together and prepare.

A strike can last a few days or several weeks — the more employees who go out and stay out, the greater the pressure on the employer to settle quickly. To be clear, it is by no means certain that Local 328 will need to strike. We have much more work to do before things get to that point. However; having seen what OHSU has proposed to us and knowing that management is already preparing for the possibility of a strike means we need to be ready. So how does one prepare for a strike? Below are a number of steps members can take to prepare financially.

OHSU is in the best financial shape in its history. We all hope that management will remember that it sacrifices made during the recession by AFSCME-represented employees helped OHSU come out strong and healthy and will bargain with us accordingly. But we can’t count on it. Now is the time to prepare. We stand strong when we stand together!

Setting Money Aside

  • Consider changing your W4 withholding status to the maximum amount allowed and putting the extra money into a savings account to be used only in the event of a strike. If you decide to change your withholding status, log into Oracle Employee Self Service and select “W4 Tax Form.” (Be sure to change your status back after the threat of a strike has passed.)
  • Hold off on purchasing discretionary items or taking on any new payments for the duration of negotiations. If you have time off coming up, plan a staycation.
  • Start packing your lunch and bringing coffee from home. Staying away from the cafeterias and coffee stands will increase your savings, plus the decrease in revenue will send a message to OHSU that its employees are preparing.
  • Volunteer for overtime when it’s offered at work and set that money aside.

Dealing with Creditors

  • Contact your landlord or mortgage company now to see if they have programs to work with people on strike. Letting them know ahead of time will help you plan properly.
  • Contact your credit-card companies and negotiate a plan for making payments for the possible duration of a strike. Companies will work with you if you plan ahead.
  • Check whether your utility companies offer the option to equalize monthly payments. If this option is available and will lower your monthly payments, sign up and save the difference.

Making Other Preparations

  • If you and your family have any routine medical needs, make your appointments now. Make sure your prescriptions are refilled—get a three-month supply if you can.
  • Plant a garden. The Oregon Food Bank offers free seeds and starts and many libraries have community seed banks. A small plot can supply a family with a lot of food.
  • Start purchasing extra staples every week. Load up on canned goods and other non-perishable items and fill your freezer. It’s always good to be prepared, and planning ahead now means smaller grocery bills later.
  • Talk to your family, friends, church leaders and other support systems. Let them know you are preparing for the possibility of a strike at work. They may be willing to assist.
  • Start coordinating with family and friends about the helping with childcare during a strike. You may be able to trade days with other AFSCME members or coordinate a group to rotate childcare responsibilities.
  • Update your résumé. Getting a part-time job during a strike is an excellent way to weather the storm during a long strike, if it comes to that.
  • May is the time for voluntary cash-out requests. Consider opting to cash out some of your vacation and comp-time accruals. Due to timing (May requests are paid out in the second half of the year), these funds wouldn’t be available right away, but a financial boost in late summer or early fall could be helpful in the event that our union did end up striking.

Bargaining-Session Update: May 7

We have another long update for you today! We know this is a lot of information to absorb — if you have any questions at all about the below items, please let us know in the comments.

Local 328 presented about 50 pages of counterproposals to OHSU this morning, including:

  • Paid Time Off: We rejected OHSU’s PTO package proposal, countering with current contract language (i.e., keeping the existing VAC/SIK system). We offered a counterproposal re: the annual voluntary cash-out — accepting the change to one cash-out period per year, but keeping the option to cash out up to 80 hours of VAC. In a number of cases we re-proposed our initial proposals that improve the contract (e.g., increased vacation accruals, removing language re: suspension of seniority rights).
  • Benefits: We rejected OHSU’s proposed cuts to insurance contributions, the spousal surcharge and other benefits take-backs. We rejected OHSU’s proposed changes to disempower the members of the Employee Benefits Council and re-proposed our initial proposal to eliminate the presidential tie-breaker from the EBC language.
  • Article 2 (Stewards): We rejected OHSU’s proposal to make time spent on steward activities for our union and the employer ineligible for overtime. The teams are moving closer to agreement on the total number of stewards and number of hours allocated to each type of steward.
  • Preferred Hire List: Overall, the teams are moving closer to agreement. We re-proposed our initial proposal to add FTE modifications to scenarios that are eligible for layoff protections.
  • Grievance Steps: Both teams have made movement in the contract language regarding the grievance process. We proposed allowing limited information requests at the Step 1 meeting, to help move the grievance process along in a more timely manner. Late in the day OHSU made a counterproposal with some movement toward agreement; a tentative agreement was also reached on one section of this contract language.
  • 2.9.1 Union Communications: We rejected OHSU’s proposal requiring our union to provide the employer with an advance copy of any email we send to all members or to all non-members. Late in the day OHSU re-proposed their language requiring advance copies of our union’s emails. (The current contract only requires such notification when we send an email to the entire bargaining unit.)
  • 7.2.5 Posting of Varying Work Schedules/7.2.6 Changes in Work Location: We are moving closer to agreement on this language, which addresses how work schedules are posted and how changes to an employee’s work location are handled. Late in the day OHSU made a counterproposal with some movement toward agreement.
  • 7.4 Availability of Additional Work: We rejected OHSU’s proposal to bypass seniority when assigning employees for non-overtime work that becomes available due to a short-notice call out (i.e., when someone calls in sick).
  • 23.3.1 Notice: We are moving closer to agreement on changes that will allow the union to better meet the representation needs of swing-shift and night-shift employees. Late in the day OHSU made a counterproposal today with some movement toward agreement. 
  • 23.3.5 When Attendance Is the Issue: We rejected OHSU’s proposal to trigger progressive discipline when an employee has three attendance occurrences in a 180-day period. We proposed maintaining the current language of 90 days. Late in the day OHSU countered with a proposal to count attendance occurrences in a 160-day period.
  • 23.6 Unauthorized Absences: We maintained the language in our initial proposal seeking to clarify that unauthorized absences are limited to no-call no-shows or walk-offs. Late in the day OHSU made a counterproposal today with some movement toward agreement.
  • 29.1 Term of Agreement: We rejected OHSU’s proposal seeking to have economic provisions (e.g, across-the-board wages, changes to differentials) not take effect until two full pay periods after the new contract is ratified. Current language states that all provisions go into effect the first full pay period after ratification. Late in the day OHSU re-proposed delaying the effective date of the economic provisions of the contract.
  • Drug & Alcohol Testing MOU: We agreed to modify this memorandum of understanding to add breathalyzer sampling as an option for testing for alcohol. We rejected OHSU’s proposed language that we see as imposing not-for-cause drug testing.

OHSU has not yet responded to our union’s economic proposals (we will likely see some of these responses next week), but did offer the following counterproposals today: 

  • 18.1.1 Posting & Awarding of Position: OHSU rejected our proposal to add an option for salaried employees to job bid for certain positions as an hourly employee. We responded today by re-proposing our language.
  • 18.1.2 Placement/18.2.4 Provisions Applicable to Internal Applicants Only: OHSU maintained its proposal that would require employees to stay in their old departments for up to eight weeks before releasing them to a new position in another OHSU department. We responded today with a counterproposal to maintain current contract language — our union feels that four weeks is more than adequate for management to handle these transitions.
  • Preferential Hire List: OHSU made a number of PHL-related counterproposals, with movement toward agreement on the following sections of the contract:
    • 5.10 Extended Medical Leave
    • 19.7 Employees Placed on Preferential Hire List
    • 19.7.1 Removal from List
    • 20.2.6 Employees Removed Following Transfer to New Department or Work
    • 20.2.7 Employees Removed Following Transfer Within Department or Work Unit
  • Staffing Task Force MOU: OHSU rejected our memorandum of understanding seeking to establish a task force to discuss concerns re: significant staffing issues.
  • Peer-to-Peer Group Counseling/Support MOU: OHSU accepted the concept behind our MOU seeking to establish a task force on implementing critical-incident debriefing training and group counseling in the wake of difficult/tragic events affecting a work unit. We feel that OHSU’s proposed changes to the MOU will need some revisions to establish sufficient support for members of our bargaining unit, but we were heartened by the afternoon’s discussion.

We are pleased to report that Local 328 and OHSU have reached tentative agreement on more than 20 sections of the contract, including:

  • 2.18 Union Conventions: This new article addresses how departments will cover employee leave when more than one member in a department is elected as a union convention delegate.
  • 7.2.7 Changes to Work Schedules: Language has been added to require 14 days’ notice of schedule changes that are necessary to provide an employee with transitional duty during recovery from an on-the-job injury.
  • 7.12 Inclement Weather/Modified Operations: Changes have been made to seven articles to reflect new terminology (“modified operations” instead of “inclement weather”) and current practice.
  • 14.2.5 Court Appearance: Immigration hearings have been added to the court appearances that are eligible for this type of leave.
  • 14.2.6 Election Leave: This leave has been protected for our members who work in states that don’t have vote by mail.
  • 14.3 Workers Compensation: This information will remain in the contract, instead of being moved elsewhere as OHSU had proposed. Some minor changes have been made to the language, including changing “physician or nurse practitioner” to “medical provider.”
  • 19.5.7 Qualified: We accepted OHSU’s proposed new language clarifying that the employees going on the preferred hire list are responsible for ensuring their application documentation is accurate.
  • 20.2.8 Employees Removed Following Placement Under Section 19.4: We agreed to language specifying that employees may remain on the PHL for one year.
  • 24.1.2 Time Extensions/24.1.4 Grievance of Specific Matters: Changes were made to this language that will help streamline the grievance process.
  • 26.3 Pay to Park Hours: We agreed to non-substantive changes that reflect current practice.
  • 27 Health and Safety: We agreed to non-substantive changes (such as changing “Environmental Health & Radiation Safety” to “Environmental Health & Safety”). Language has also been added to note that employees may contact OSHA directly for assistance.
  • Community Employment Committee MOU: Both teams had presented updates to this memorandum of understanding to reflect its establishment and goals for the future. Our union agreed to OHSU’s proposal.

Upcoming Events & Activities

  • May 1 – mid-June — Bargaining Survey: Take this very important bargaining survey to give our union direction re: settling vs. striking. Since we start mediation on May 21, the sooner you take the survey, the more helpful your feedback will be.  
  • May 22 — Bargaining Town Hall: Attend our next town hall on Wednesday, May 22, from 12 noon to 1:00 p.m. in UHS 8B60. Hollie Hemenway, director of HR and Employee/Labor Relations and a member of OHSU’s bargaining team, will be in attendance.
  • June 13 — Informational Picket: Participate in this event on Marquam Hill at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 13. After the picket, join us for food, drink, and guest speakers. More details will follow soon — in the meantime, share and RSVP to the event on Facebook.

Bargaining-Session Update: April 30

Our union spent the day working on counterproposals to unresolved contract language still on the table. Since we had notified OHSU that our team would be in caucus all day, the OHSU team did not join us at the Oregon AFSCME office today. Our bargaining team had a very productive caucus day and developed dozens of counterproposals to OHSU’s proposals, including language on hours of work, the preferential hire list, steward/officer hours, discipline, grievances, and drug/alcohol testing. (Some of our counters to other OHSU proposals may simply be to keep current contract language.)

We expect that both teams will have a full slate of counterproposals to share when we meet again on May 7. Details about our union’s counterproposals will be included in next week’s bargaining update, after our proposed language been presented to OHSU. In the meantime, let us know your thoughts in the comments below and take a very important bargaining survey (see additional information at the bottom of this post).

We also reviewed dozens of letters of agreement to determine whether we want these to roll over to the next contract. Going forward, our union intends to include these LOAs in the printed contract (and PDF) so that all contractual language can be found in one place. 

A number of our proposals are awaiting a response from OHSU, including:

    • Across-the-Board Wage Increases — offering a 5.0% increase the first year of the contract and a 4.0% raise the second
    • Lump Sum Payment — offering a $100 or 1% (whichever is greater) payment in November
    • Longevity Rate — restoring longevity status to some employees who lost it with the 2015 contract
    • Differentials — offering a number of new differentials: weekend, float, advanced certification and preceptor 
    • Free Bus Passes — offering free transit passes to AFSCME-represented employees upon request (for TriMet, C-TRAN and other transit systems)
    • Community Advisory Board — establishing a task force uniting faculty, students, nurses, all four unions and others to look at issues such as health-care costs, housing and transportation issues, clinic access and employment opportunities
    • Peer-to-Peer Group Counseling/Support — establishing a task force on implementing critical-incident debriefing training and group counseling in the wake of difficult/tragic events affecting a work unit
    • Staffing Task Force — establishing a task force to discuss concerns re: significant staffing issues
    • 403(b) Contribution Match — requiring OHSU to partially match voluntary contributions to a 403(b) retirement plan (similar to ONA’s contact)
    • Reimbursement of Certification Expenses — reimbursing employees for certification fees that meet eligibility requirements
    • PERS Pension Rates — requiring OHSU to contribute 2% of PERS participants’ earnings to a 403(b) retirement account if the legislature passes a requirement for participants to contribute to PERS
    • Tuition Discounts — allowing our union to negotiate parity with ONA’s tuition-discount language
    • Time Off Between Regularly Scheduled Shifts — compensating employees at time and a half for shifts worked after a shortened rest period
    • Posting & Awarding of Position — expanding job-bid language
    • Preferential Hire List Task Force — establishing a task force to ensure that the PHL placement process is easily understood by employees and managers
    • Co-Branding — requiring that initiatives/projects developed jointly between Local 328 and OHSU are co-branded

Upcoming Events & Activities

    • May 1 – mid-June — Bargaining Survey: Take this very important bargaining survey to give our union direction re: settling vs. striking. Since we start mediation on May 21, the sooner you take the survey the better. Details will be shared in a President’s Message email being sent later this week. 
    • May 8 — OHSU Employee Career Fair: Explore career paths and workplace opportunities at this event being held Wednesday, May 8, from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the BICC Gallery. Learn more here. 
    • May 22 — Bargaining Town Hall: Attend our next town hall on Wednesday, May 22, from 12 noon to 1:00 p.m. in UHS 8B60. Hollie Hemenway, director of HR and Employee/Labor Relations and a member of OHSU’s bargaining team, will be in attendance.
    • June TBD (if needed) — Strike-Related Membership Meeting: If our survey indicates member support for a formal work stoppage, we will hold a special membership meeting in June, with a formal vote whether to authorize the bargaining team to call a strike.
    • OHSU is conducting a employee engagement survey through Tuesday, May 20. Share your experience on work environment, OHSU leadership, compensation and more here. 

Who Do You Want to Make the Benefits Decisions at OHSU?

**This article was originally posted on March 29.**

Since this article was first posted, OHSU has responded to our proposal with language that is even less collaborative than the current contract language. OHSU wants to strip the decision-making power from the Employee Benefits Council, turning it into a body that merely makes recommendations to OHSU’s vice president of Human Resources.

Local 328 is disappointed in OHSU’s March 21 characterization of our union’s proposal to eliminate the tie-breaker from the Employee Benefits Council voting process. The EBC was designed to work by consensus, and functioned well for about 17 years before the tie-breaking language was added to the contract. Our proposal isn’t radical at all, merely a return to the language that served OHSU employees well for many year.

OHSU stated in its email that it is considering the possible “ramifications” of returning to language that allowed for fair decision-making by representatives from management, AFSCME and ONA. Local 328 is more concerned about the demonstrated actual harm we feel has been done to our members by putting all of the power over your health-insurance options into the hands of a single person. (A person whose annual base salary is more than $1 million, no less.)

In 2018, the EBC was in the final stages of changing our third-party administrator from Moda to Aetna. Then-President Robertson overruled the EBC and we were left with Moda. Dr. Robertson also cast a tie-breaking vote resulting in OHSU deciding to offer a high-deductible insurance plan. (Local 328 doesn’t generally recommend this type of plan because of concerns for employees who may not have the ability to fully pay the deductible in an emergency.)

Last year OHSU also floated the idea of imposing a spousal surcharge on employees paying for health insurance for a spouse who could obtain coverage through his/her own job. Our union believed this should be decided during bargaining, but OHSU felt it should be decided at the EBC. So, we took the case to arbitration — and won. OHSU might still propose this during our current negotiations, but how do you think it would have been decided at the EBC? Under the current contract language, it would likely have ended up in a tie and ultimately been imposed on employees by a tie-breaking vote by Dr. Jacobs.

The language Local 328 has proposed will return the EBC to a labor/management cooperation model that has been remarkably effective until recently, one where all voices have a say. Shouldn’t we all want that?

For the record, here is the change proposed by Local 328: “Every reasonable attempt will be made to make consensus-based decisions utilizing evaluative criteria developed by the Council. If consensus fails, the matter(s) will be voted by the parties collectively (e.g., ONA one (1) vote, AFSCME two (2) votes, and the Employer three (3) votes). If the Council is still unable to reach a decision, the matter(s) in dispute shall be referred to the OSHU President or his/her designee, whose decision shall be final and binding on the Council, the Employer, the Union and the ONA. Two (2) Union, one (1) ONA and three (3) Employer Council members shall constitute a quorum.”

You can read more about our concerns about the current EBC process here.