Category Archives: Understanding the contract

Rehab Employees Raise Concerns

Interviews with employees of OHSU’s Rehabilitation Services Department have raised concerns about staffing, patient care, and pervasive contract and labor law violations. In addition issues of internal equity and managerial ethics were also raised. This is the first in a series of reports on these allegations.

All names will be kept confidential in these reports, though more specific information has been shared with OHSU Human Resources and will continue to be shared as we develop it. For now, we are attempting to work with OHSU as we did in the EVS cases, but should grievances and other legal actions become necessary we won’t hesitate to pursue them.

Health Care Benefits

Local 328 Staff were initially contacted by employees who were concerned that they were being unethically denied full time health care benefits by Rehab Services management. According to our union contract there are four classes of represented employees at OHSU – regular FTE employees, relief employees, flex employees, and limited duration employees. In addition, regular FTE employees may be full or part time.

Flex employees do not get health care benefits. Relief employees receive health care benefits based on the number of hours they’ve worked in the previous six months.

Limited duration and regular FTE employees receive health care benefits based on their FTE. LD and Regular FTE employees who are .75 FTE or higher receive full benefits with the maximum employer contribution. Employees between .5 and .75 FTE receive part time benefits which provide the same health plan but with a significantly lower employer contribution, and therefore a much higher out of pocket premium cost for employees.

For the last few years Rehab Services Management has frequently hired therapists as .5 employees, with the notice that extra shifts may be available to be worked. In fact, for many employees those extra shifts were not only available but expected and that extra work resulted in several “part time” employees working full time hours for indefinite periods of time without full time health care benefits. Some employees raised concerns surrounding this without any action from management. Others felt that even though they were losing significant money on their health care benefits, they might face retaliation by losing their extra shifts if they protested about the loss of benefits.

We were given one example of a member who was initially hired on as a flex position in 2015 and was told the flex position would be a way to track hours worked and validate the need for more FTE in the pediatric rehab setting. Her position soon changed to relief and she was able to accrue full time benefits. In September 2017, a .95 employee changed to a .8, making a .15 FTE position available. The relief employee was told if she wanted to maintain her seniority and hours worked, she would have to take the .15 FTE position, otherwise a new hire would have seniority and likely take her hours. In October 2017 she took the .15 FTE out of fear of losing hours worked and routinely worked 30 to 40 hours a week for a year without health care benefits.

Another example is an employee who was a .5 FTE and worked for over a year full time. He requested to receive an increase in his FTE as he needed full time benefits for him and his family. He was told no by management and recently quit to work for Shriners where he now receives full time health care benefits.

Some quotes from union members we interviewed:

“I was hired for Saturday/Sunday and always worked more than that”

“People are being hired under the pretense that these are part time jobs and know they are going to work you more than that and not give you benefits.”

“They don’t hire people with experience because they cost more. They hire new grads because they are cheaper and will put up with not getting benefits.”

“They create unsustainable positions – for example sat/sun only with 10 hours shifts – only desperate people take these jobs and they don’t stay.”

The number of employees working consistently over their FTE has been reduced recently, but for many, in the previous few years, they have lost hundreds of dollars per month in healthcare benefits beginning the day they were hired, with full knowledge by management that they would be routinely expected to work extra shifts. Rehab management frequently frames full time benefits as a privilege and not as a benefit for actual hours worked.

OHSU must end the practice of unethically hiring employees as part time and then working them full time in order to save money on employee health care benefits and must further end the unethical practice of keeping employees who have a demonstrated history of working full time hours listed as part time FTE. It is, perhaps, excusable to hire an employee and not anticipate the number of hours they will actually have to work, it’s an intentional and unethical act to keep them working for months or years in excess of their FTE and not upgrade their FTE status with full knowledge of the negative impact this is having on employee health care benefits.

Next Article: Pervasive Wage and Hour Violations In Rehab Services

Top Ten Contract Articles – Article 9 – Overtime and Premium Pay

With contract bargaining coming up it’s helpful to review the contracts most important articles – those articles that have immediate impact on your working life. Check earlier articles in the blog for more contract article information.

Article 9 contains the answers to your questions about overtime and how it is assigned, calculated and paid.

What is overtime?

  • OT is work beyond your regular shift or beyond 40 hours per week. [9.1.1]

How much do I get paid for OT?

  • Time and one half. [9.1.2]

How is OT calculated? What is included in the calculation?

  • OT is calculated on a daily basis, unless you sign a waiver of daily OT — then it’s calculated weekly. All hours worked plus vacation taken count toward OT. [9.1.3]

How is OT scheduled and assigned?

  • Generally OT is offered in seniority order and, if no one volunteers, assigned in reversed seniority order. [9.1.4] (See our Mandatory Overtime tip sheet for more information.)

Can I be required to work OT if I don’t want to?

  • [9.1.4.c] (See our Mandatory Overtime tip sheet for more information.)

How do I get home if I’m required to work late and miss my bus?

  • Under some circumstances, OHSU may be required to pay for a cab for you. [9.1.4.e]

Is there a limit to how many hours I can work?

  • Yes — no more than 16 out of 24 hours. [9.1.4.g]

Is there a limit to how many hours I can be required to work?

  • Yes — you can be “mandatoried” for no more than 60 hours per quarter. [9.1.4.f]

Do I have to take OT earnings in the form of pay?

  • Not always — you may be able to take some as “comp time.” [9.1.5]

Can I be called back to work once I go home for the day?

  • [9.2]

If I’m called in, is there a minimum I must be paid?

  • Yes — two hours. [9.2.1]

Do I get paid extra for working a holiday?

  • Yes — time worked on a holiday is paid at time and one half in addition to any holiday compensation you may be eligible for. [9.4]

If you have any questions about OT work and your rights, please read the contract language (available in the Your Union Contract tab at www.local328.org) or contact your unit steward for additional help.

Top Ten Contract Articles – Article 7

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.

Is Local 328 Switching To A PTO System?

No. Not unless we agree to, and we haven’t done that.

[Edit] You can download a copy of the PTO proposal here.

Local 328 continues to get questions about PTO in response to OHSU’s recent communication on the subject. While many took the wording in OHSU’s blog post to mean that OHSU is moving forward with PTO even though the nurses did not agree to change to a PTO system in their contract negotiations, what OHSU was communicating is that PTO continues to be a priority for them and that they will go ahead with it for unclassified employees and they will continue to propose it to represented employees.

Local 328 has NOT agreed to a PTO proposal. OHSU cannot simply impose PTO on our bargaining unit without our agreement. OHSU knows this and they have never indicated any attempt to do anything but follow the contract.

We DO have contract language which says we will meet and form a task force with OHSU. A task force is a place where we can discuss PTO, look at possibilities for changes and make recommendations. A task force is not collective bargaining and we are not required to come to a resolution by participating in a task force.

Our contract does NOT obligate us to formally bargain over PTO prior to negotiations in 2019. However, when bargaining begins OHSU may decide to put a PTO proposal on the table.

We are committed to full disclosure and membership involvement and no changes will be made without that discussion and involvement.

At this time only one meeting has been held and that was between OHSU and AFSCME staff for the purpose of allowing OHSU to explain what was being provided to unclassified employees. As of this time OHSU has not contacted to our union to formally propose that the task force be formed and begin meeting. We will let you know if they do.

We will to continue to post updates on our FaceBook page on our blog so that members may comment and share ideas and concerns.

Understanding the “Time Served” Credit and “Range Push”

When the contract was wrapped up at the end of bargaining there were still a couple of finishing touches that needed to be put on it with a Letter of Agreement. One of the outstanding issues was the “time-served” credit that is to be applied to employees who are at the top step of the pay range at the time the “range push” goes into effect.  It took about three weeks after bargaining concluded to wrap up the LOA and get it signed by all parties.

What is this and how will it work?

  • Effective the first full pay period in January, all bargaining unit employees enrolled in UPP will receive a 6% increase.
  • At the same time, OHSU will stop making the 6% retirement pick up contribution for UPP.
  • Employees enrolled in UPP will be able to immediately place their 6% raise back into a pre-tax retirement instrument or keep it as a wage increase.

OK so far? If you need more information about the pre-tax retirement option, you may contact the OHSU Benefits office. Part of our agreement is that OHSU will have financial counseling available for members during the transition.

  • At the same time that the retirement changes are happening, all pay ranges will be increased 5% at the bottom and 6% at the top — this is the “range push.”
  • Only the pay range will move. Everyone’s wages will remain the same, with one exception. Employees enrolled in UPP will have received the 6% increase to offset their retirement changes; however, PERS employees may still find themselves within 5% of the bottom of the pay range.
    • If you are within 5% of the bottom of the pay range, you will get whatever raise it takes to keep you within the range after the push.
      • For example, if you are at the very bottom of the range, you will get a 5% increase.
      • If you are 4% above the bottom of the range, you will get a 1% increase.
      • If you are 5% or more above the bottom of the range your wage will not change.
  • The top of the pay range will increase by 6%.
    • Everyone will have a potential additional 6% to grow when they top out.
    • If you are at the top of the range, you will have been earning time toward the day when you will jump to the longevity step (which happens after you have been topped out for five years).
      • After the push, you will find yourself 6% below the top of the range, with four years of increases before you get back to the top.
      • When you get back to top of the range, the “time-served” LOA provides that whatever time you earned toward moving to the longevity step will be restored to you. For example, if you were topped out for four years before the “range push,” you will be considered to have four years at top step when you get back to the top of the range.
    • If you are at the longevity step, you will find yourself back within the pay range, with two anniversary increases coming in the next two years to get back to the top of the range. You will then begin the five-year count to move to the longevity step again, although you be making 3% more at top of the new range than you would have made at longevity before the “range push.”
  • When the dust settles, members at the bottom of the range, the top of the range and the longevity step will all get pay increases larger and more frequently than they would have gotten before the push. Everyone else will see no change, but will have 6% more wage growth available to them.

Remember: these changes will go into effect the first full pay period in January 2016. We urge UPP-enrolled members to learn about their pre-tax retirement-contribution options and to take advantage of them if they want to be held harmless when the time comes to retire.