Category Archives: Bargaining 2019

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.

What You Need To Know Today About The Employee Benefits Council

Why Should You Care About the EBC and Consensus Decision-Making

A Short History of the EBC

First off, what the heck is an EBC anyway? EBC stands for Employee Benefits Council. It’s a group set up by the Local 328 contract to review health-related benefit plans, recommend plan-design changes and review and recommend contracts with various benefit-plan providers. The EBC is made up of 12 representatives: six from management and non-represented employees (managers, supervisors, faculty, research staff and the HR Benefits office) and six union representatives (two from ONA and four from AFSCME).

The EBC was designed to work by consensus; that is, it tries to get unanimous agreement on changes to benefit plans. Plan changes can happen for a variety of reasons. For example, in the years leading up to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the EBC tried to contain costs while maximizing coverage in order to avoid paying the so-called “Cadillac tax” that the ACA called for if health-insurance premiums rose above a certain level. Another example is that the EBC chose to limit the massage benefit, because we saw heavy use by very few people, using out of network providers, which drove up premium costs for everyone else.

Choices about changes like this are hard to make, because no matter what we do in the drive to contain costs and provide excellent benefits, some people will feel like they’ve been helped and others will feel like they’ve been hurt. The consensus process is meant to be a check against rash decisions or financial decisions that will disproportionately hurt others. Among the groups represented on the EBC, AFSCME is unique in that we represent employees, in about 300 job classifications, whose wages vary tremendously. We try to ensure that whatever we do, it does not leave our lower-paid workers in a position where they cannot afford their health care. An extra $25 or $50 has a very different impact on someone making $15/hour than it does for someone making $90,000 or more a year.

Through all of the EBC’s decisions, the consensus process has been the glue that has allowed all of the representatives to make decisions that, over the years, have kept our health-care benefits at OHSU affordable and accessible. So what happens when the EBC can’t reach consensus? Well, our contract addresses that. If consensus cannot be reached, then the EBC votes on the decision. Management/OHSU has three votes, ONA has one vote and AFSCME has two votes. If the vote ends in a tie, OHSU’s president casts the tie-breaking vote.

In all our union’s years of sitting on the EBC, we do not recall ever having to vote or ever having OHSU’s president break a tie.

Until now.

Consensus Breaks Down

This year has seen the first cracks in the foundation of consensus decision-making with the EBC. Within the last two months:

  • The EBC was in the final stages of reaching consensus on recommending changing the third-party administrator of our health plan to Aetna from Moda. President Robertson overruled the EBC and decided that OHSU would remain with Moda.
  • The EBC could not reach consensus on whether to offer a high-deductible health plan in addition to our current plan. The chair of the committee moved quickly to a vote and the vote was tied 3-3, with all union votes being against offering such a plan. President Robertson cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of offering a high-deductible health plan.
  • Several years ago the EBC was approached by our consultants with a proposal to raise deductibles rather dramatically, in an attempt to keep premiums down. In a compromise designed to keep health care affordable, the EBC reached consensus to raise deductibles by $25/year over several years. HR Benefits is now proposing throwing this agreement aside and imposing new, dramatically higher deductibles.
  • HR Benefits has also proposed adding a spousal surcharge of $50/month for every employee whose spouse opts for OHSU’s health insurance when they are eligible for health-care coverage through their own employer. Our union contends that a spousal surcharge is a premium increase, not a plan-design change and therefore needs to be raised at the bargaining table not at the EBC. Local 328 has filed a grievance on this matter; our grievance has already been heard by an arbitrator and we are awaiting a decision.

The EBC has functioned by consensus decision-making for more than two decades. The breakdown of that model will have consequences far beyond the meeting room of the EBC. It will be felt in paychecks, at doctors’ offices and at the bargaining table.

 Where Does This Leave Us?

Why is HR Benefits proposing these changes that take money from OHSU’s employees’ pockets? Well, they have been given marching orders to save more than a million dollars on the OHSU’s health-care benefits budget.

Why? We have asked and have not been answered — unless you consider “to maintain the viability of OHSU” to be an answer of sufficient specificity to justify taking money back from our members and other OHSU employees.

Who made this decision? Asked and not answered.

Are these marching orders coming from Huron Consulting Group, which just decided that it would be a swell idea to grab a million or so benefits dollars back from employees? Asked and not answered.

How are management votes tallied at the EBC? Who decided how their three votes are cast? Asked and actually answered: they don’t know. In the one case where we voted, all management representatives were in favor of the high-deductible plan. They haven’t decided what they would do if the management representatives’ votes were ever split.

HR Benefits has indicated that the spousal surcharge will not be dealt with until we get an arbitration decision. Make no mistake — we will deal with the spousal surcharge at the EBC if our union loses the arbitration or at bargaining if we win the arbitration. This is not going away.

The proposed deductible changes will be dealt with at the EBC. The EBC has dealt with deductibles in the past. We suspect we will not reach consensus on ending the compromise deal we made and instead imposing new, higher deductibles. That will force a vote. You can see where this is going.

The move away from consensus decisions in the service of taking dollars away from our members and others — for secretive and unspecified reasons — is profoundly dangerous. The EBC has worked and worked well for more than 20 years — because of the internal checks and balances required by successful use of consensus decision-making.

Forcing votes on contentious issues and letting them be decided by tie-breaker votes by a brand new OHSU president just prior to our union embarking on contract bargaining is a risky proposition for all concerned. It unnecessarily raises the stakes at the bargaining table and, more importantly, undermines a model of labor management cooperation that — in the case of the EBC — has been remarkably effective for more than two decades.

Let us know what you think.

 

 

Message From Local 328 President Matt Hillton

Greetings Brothers and Sisters of AFSCME Local 328,

The U.S. Supreme Court has announced its decision in the Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 case. The decision overturns a previous 9-0 precedent that had ensured fair public-sector labor continuity for more than 40 years. Five individual justices have now settled case law that impacts millions of public-sector unionized workers in the United States. This ruling, which our union has been preparing for, creates a more difficult landscape for us to navigate, and inevitability means there will be “free riders” availing themselves of benefits that their coworkers have paid for.

I want to be clear — this case wasn’t brought by chance. There’s a correlation between this case and the work of the Freedom Foundation and other right-wing anti-worker groups. Union density translates to higher wages and better benefits. Weakening public-sector unions will have a negative impact on the earning power of working-class Americans. Income inequality in the United States is at its greatest level since the Great Depression; even so, there’s a select class of people who want to reap even more from an already rigged economy. For example, the type of person who gave $28.5 million in dark money to promote Neil Gorsuch for the U.S. Supreme Court obviously expects a return on his or her investment. The United States is an economic superpower with the largest economy in the world — a weak labor movement ensures that more and more of the wealth created by workers flows to the top 1 percent.

At one point in our country’s history, more than a third of jobs were unionized. Even non-union employers were pressured to keep wages and benefits high, because their employees would otherwise leave and seek better-compensated jobs with union employers. Economic conditions at this time meant that someone could provide for a family and own a home on a single income. In the 1950s, a CEO earned about 20 times more than the typical employee. Today, the average CEO of a large company makes 271 times more than a front-line worker does. In 21 states, the minimum wage is only $7.25. More than half of personal bankruptcies are due to medical bills. Nearly one in three private-sector workers, and 70% of the lowest-paid workers, do not have paid sick time. After decades of corporate attack, private-sector unionism dwindled to 20% in the 1980s and stands at only 6.5% today. Public-sector unions have been the last bastions for working people, at 34.4% membership, but the Janus ruling instantly reduces that number.

Brothers and sisters, know this: In spite of this ruling, our union is still very much here. The Supreme Court can’t take away our union. Billionaires’ money and greed can’t take away our union. OHSU can’t take away our union. Any decision to weaken our union will be made at the individual level.

 You have a choice when it comes to signing your membership card. When Act 10 passed in Wisconsin in 2011, AFSCME represented nearly 63,000 employees. Individuals made the decision to drop their membership, and today that number is less than 20,000. On the flip side, federal-employee unions have been required to survive in a “right to work” environment for some time. This hasn’t stopped the American Federation of Government Employees from growing its membership by 100,000 since 2012. This hasn’t stopped the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 82 union in Portland from achieving a membership rate of almost 95 percent.

Our power comes from collective action. Our union’s ability to represent our members’ interests and ensure fairness at OHSU is directly tied to the number of employees who have made the commitment to belong to our union. What kind of union do you want negotiating with OHSU early next year — a weak one or a strong one?

I’m extremely proud of the work done by our union’s member leaders in preparation for the court’s decision. We have consistently budgeted prudently. Over the last few years we have put significant effort into growing our executive board, our steward program and our unit-steward ranks. I thank every activist and volunteer who’s taken the time to talk to coworkers. It’s because of you that our members know the value of our union and it’s because of you that Local 328’s membership numbers keep growing.

In the days ahead, let’s talk. Come to an AFSCME table in the cafeteria. Speak with your unit steward. Email bargaining@local328.org with feedback about contract language you’d like to see. Attend a future bargaining listening session in your department. Be informed. Talk to your coworkers about our union. Consider if you’d like to volunteer in some sort of capacity during negotiations.

Please attend, or watch online, our bargaining town tall on Wednesday, July 11, at 12 noon in UHS 8B60. (The live-stream link will be emailed out the day of the town hall.) After the town hall, dues-paying members will be voting to determine how they want our bargaining team to be structured. We elect our bargaining team in late August.

We are stronger together, and AFSCME strong!

In solidarity,

Matt Hilton, President

AFSCME Local 328

 

Top Ten Contract Articles – Article 8

This is the second in our series of top-ten contract articles. Article 8 deals with what is, for many people, the most important reason to come to work: their pay and their raises. Our contract has extensive language protecting your rights to wages and raises.

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):

  • Across-the-board raises — This section of our contract deals with our across-the-board raises of 3.0%, 2.25%, 2.25% and 2.5% during the term of the contract. [8.1]
  • Progression increases (formerly known as step increases — How much they are each year? How do they change over the course of your employment? Employees get larger increases early in their tenure and then they decrease over time — it takes about 13 years to reach the top of the pay range. [8.2]
  • Merit increases — Merit increases are PERMITTED by the union contract, no matter what your supervisor says. [8.3]
  • Market-based adjustments — How do they work? Are you under- or overpaid according to the labor market based on surveys? OHSU’s Market-Based Wage Committee, which includes representatives from our union, meets once a year and reviews all AFSCME-represented classifications. [8.4 – 8.4.4]
  • Pay changes upon status changes — How do your wages change when you demote, transfer, promote, get reclassified (upward or downward) and return from layoff? It’s complicated. You will need to read the article to see how your individual circumstances should be handled. Please contact our steward program through the eZone (unionlabor.org/logIn/logIn.cfm) if you need help applying the contract language to your situation. [8.5 – 8.5.4]
  • Travel expenses. [8.6]
  • Your final paycheck when you end your employment at OHSU. [8.7]
  • Under-/overpayments — What happens when you are overpaid or underpaid? You may be required to repay money if you are overpaid; our contract explains the process for that. [8.8]

This tip sheet doesn’t cover everything in Article 8 — 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.

What Are The “Top Ten” Contract Articles?

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.

Bargaining Timeline

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.