Pay Progression – Members Speak Out!

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We’ve selected the top blog comments from last week. (We’ve removed identifying information.)

The top three comments of each week will receive a prize package from AFSCME Local 328. Keep commenting and see if your comment makes the cut next week!

Top Three

What is OHSU’s “quit rate”? I have watched many people jump from job to job in OHSU or leave OHSU altogether because you will get more money changing positions, even doing the same job, than you will staying in your position.

My job takes one year to learn and two to three years to master, even starting with a strong skill set. The duties are cyclical, following the academic year, and there are many high-level tasks that only happen once a year. I have stayed in my position and become a master, but I certainly haven’t stayed for the money. I cannot imagine it taking 17 years to reach the top of my pay scale, instead of ten. When you already have five years in a job, staying 12 more to max out seems ridiculous, where five is reasonable. There is absolutely no reason to stay that long when you can change jobs and make more money, and having mastered my position I can try to advance to a better job title. That leaves my program spending half the longevity of each person who holds this role training them.

I entered my career believing that you should stay with an employer as long as you can because they will take care of you. Well, I am about to get my ten-year pin and I am not feeling appreciated at all. I am told I make too much — last year my pay rate was adjusted DOWN to make a scale look aligned with a state average, and now I am being told that it will take longer to reach the maximum pay rate, a rate that is LOWER than it is now, to align with another average.

This is not right. This is not good for employees. This does not encourage longevity. This is not something we should meet halfway on; the answer is NO, we will not accept 9.25% over 17 years instead of 12.5% over 10 years.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never striven to be “average.” I have always wanted to be extraordinary and have been praised by managers for being exceptional. Not average.

  • The certificate that came with my anniversary award is signed by Dr. Joe Robertson. It says “We fervently believe that Oregon Health and Science University is only as strong as the commitment that we receive each and every day from dedicated associates like you.”


OHSU speaks one set of values of its employees and acts with a totally different set of values. Obviously they see us as a tremendously negative financial burden to them. Talent, dedication and commitment to excellence do not seem to be part of their equation. As they continue to cut into our benefits and pay they eventually will end up getting what they seem to be aiming for — mediocrity.

We deserve much better than what OHSU proposes and we should all be ready to hold the line. Let’s support the bargaining team in rejecting OHSU’s shortsighted and self-defeating proposals and help OHSU save them from themselves.

  • As an employee with more than ten years at OHSU, I have to say that I find this proposal demoralizing and somewhat offensive. I am happy in my job and with the management in my work unit, but the overall OHSU management is just greedy and deceitful. They keep making it harder and harder to justify staying here. I sort of think this is the goal. As anyone who has been at OHSU very long knows, there are A LOT of people who work here for decades, and this proposal would deal a huge blow to these people, perhaps even enough to get many of us to leave. Then they can hire a bunch of newbies at a fraction of the cost. Never mind the fact that they are screwing over the people who helped build OHSU over the last decade or two. Do not accept this proposal under any circumstances! It undermines so much of what the union has fought for over the years. This is huge, and we need to fight it!

Honorable Mention

  • I have to say, I was hoping to make OHSU my work-home for the rest of my career, in one form or another.

But with every subsequent bargaining session, I feel less and less valued and more ready to start finding work elsewhere. It’s obvious to me that OHSU doesn’t value its employees as much it does the bottom line. It makes me sad, and angry.

  • Pharmacists at this institution are expected to perform as leaders in excellence, as we should be, but compensated at maybe the middle of the pack? A pack that I believe to be cherry picked for the lower end of average? What are they thinking?

Are managers taking any cuts? Are we looking at whether they need to take pay cuts and retirement benefit decreases? Shoot, do we even look at other institutions number of managers? We are overflowing with them and the leadership of our department is terrible.

Why would they think that decreasing pay and benefits would make us want to work harder? How can this attract new skilled employees in any field, let alone one that is a huge part of the safety of this hospital? How can we be expected to continually increase the amount of work required with fewer resources, and now with less pay?

No chance any of these questions will be honestly answered. I’d strike if it comes down to that.

  • I love my job at OHSU. I do not want to have to imagine myself working for a new employer. Once again we are hearing about “industry standards.” What industry? Where?

Each day I am required to produce excellent high quality work in an ever changing and challenging environment and I feel that I continue to rise to the occasion. I am disappointed to be asked to be compensated at a standard rate and asked to produce excellent work.

This new proposal is laughable. Do not accept this cut in pay!

  • OHSU leaders seem to have spent a lot of time and effort finding complex and misleading ways to state that they want to pay their employees less money. If, at every contract negotiation, OHSU wishes to lessen pay and benefits for employees, I am not sure why anyone would ever wish to do excellent quality work here. Seems like market-standard work would be good enough for OHSU.
  • Proposals like this impact every individual in the department. Our department continues to lose skilled, long-term employees who “max out” of pay increases yet are continually asked to take on more and more responsibilities. The onboarding process at OHSU is steep and requires a lot of time, money AND commitment from the rest of the team to cover work until the new person is able to work independently. A plan that does not incentivize the individuals that are highly skilled, effective and well established in their positions is shortsighted and will cost more money in the end. Patients will notice, co-workers will feel stressed, departments will be less efficient and management will have to commit more time/money to training if we do not, as an institution, value our long-term employees.

I rate my job satisfaction on being challenged by my work, on the people I work for and with and on whether I feel valued by the people I work for and with. This is not just an AFSCME issue; this is an issue for all OHSU.

24 thoughts on “Pay Progression – Members Speak Out!”

  1. As an almost 30-year employee, my input is that I’ve enjoyed consistent raises through all the years, with the exception of a 5-year period (I think) between 2009-2014 when a new compensation plan was implemented and I was already at the top of the pay scale. I then did receive a longevity raise last year.

    My opinion is that there should be no “top of pay ranges,” that every 2 years or so (based on contract negotiations) there be an increase in pay, and consequently, no need for longevity raises. We’re all at the mercy of economic fluctuations, so being able to keep our jobs until “longevity” kicks in seems to be a gamble that really none of us can count on or predict. However, looking forward to pay increases on a regular basis is something that gives hope and motivation to carry on.

    1. Yes. This is such a slap in the face to us who have worked and dedicated many years to earn rights to have a little peace and say over how,what and how they want to work. It is bad enough that employees with seniority get very little in pay raises as it is after they have reached that Plato in their career. All they have is their dignity of retiring and they for the most part go out of their way to prove and give their best because they love their job. I speak for myself in many ways and levels over the years of longevity and the changes and struggles I went through to get where I am now.

  2. I love working at OHSU and would like to work here for the rest of my days. However; my biggest thing is this; If I have to wait 17 years to top out at pay instead of 10 years my retirement fund is going to suffer along with economic costs rising. Also, if the state of Oregon raises minimum wage to $15.oo an hour does that mean I don’t get to see the $15 dollar increase in my pay? If OHSU does not give us that increase then they are saying the education time and effort we put in to this organization is not good enough and we should work minimum wage and find a different place to work. Also, I am curious that a Billion Dollar health care system is even struggling to do what is right by paying their employees even more and taking more out of our income to keep their bottom line cushioned. I really hope that AFSCME will fight a little more to get a better pay wage for the employees that keep OHSU truly running efficiently!

    1. Remember that asking AFSCME to fight a little more really means asking our coworkers to fight a little more. Those of us at the bargaining table can’t fight OHSU’s lousy proposals alone–we need the thousands of members we represent to fight along with us.

  3. Over the past few years, OHSU “leadership” has shown an increasing and alarming propensity for deceiving employees and watering down compensation. I remember being asked by OHSU management, during the recession, to be a team player and tighten my belt. We all did, because we knew times were rough and we believe in our mission. There was an implied message that this was temporary as we were experiencing an extraordinarily turbulent time and we just needed to weather the storm. The storm cleared, OHSU came back even stronger….and here we are, essentially being told our hard work is meaningless because, after all, they can always get someone to do it for cheaper. I feel that employees are not seen as assets to be valued, but as an obstacle standing in the way of even more cash.

    I guess they haven’t yet learned the meaning of “you get what you pay for”.

  4. I’ll just keep saying that their “pay progression” proposal does nothing for the salaried employees, because right now there is no guaranteed step-type increase of any kind for salaried employees. We’ve been told by our direct managers that our division allocates 3% for raises every year. If a portion of that is taken up by contract-mandated raises (in particular COLAs), then the remainder is what’s left for discretionary raises. So if the COLA is 2%, then there’s 1% for discretionary raises. 2.5%, then 0.5% for discretionary. Etc.

    We work hard in our division. We work well in our division. We get a lot of “good job!”-type statements. And we recognize that not all recognition is, or can be, financial. But I feel it’s an absolute disgrace to say they need to recruit “world-class” researchers and not recognize the support staff that make it possible for the researchers to come in and do their work. For without the support staff, they wouldn’t be able to do anything.

    I’m not asking for a 20% raise or a 20% bonus. But I am asking for fairness and consideration, especially in the good times like now. That’s all I ask and that’s all I expect.

  5. Regarding “Pay Progression” – Setting this extended length of time for an employee to reach top of the range at the pay scale level will set impeccable standards for employees to stay long enough with OHSU to get to that range.

    In the administrative world, we all wear multiple “hats” and work extremely hard. The increase in our pay is a motivation to stay here a very long time. I do not plan to work anywhere else, at our current state of wage increase. Nor do I demand the required yearly review of our management team, which I may add is hardly/never given when necessary.

    I really would like to see the Union fight harder at denying the OHSU Management request.

    Thank you LOCAL 328

  6. dear OHSU;
    if you want to keep me, you should make it worth my time and effort. I do my job exceedingly well, not just anyone could replace me (and I know, my supervisor and I have tried to find and train someone that can do my job). Most days I love it here, some days I get mired in all the drama. You want me to pay for parking after sitting in traffic for an hour to get here? Ugh, Fine. You want to stop contributing to my PERS? Ok, I get it. But now you say I’m not worth as much as you pay me – that the “average” person out there could do my job and would do it for less money. Good luck with that.
    In my department alone, less than 1 tenth of the employees have been at OHSU for less than 10 years. I’m not sure what the scale is university wide, but I think that OHSU is forgetting that the institutional knowledge they don’t want to pay for any more could walk out the door and crush this place. Your researchers and physicians aren’t going to be able to do anything without the lowly support staff. If you want the “knowledge of all for the care of one”…. all of our knowledge comes at a reasonable price.

  7. I think OHSU’s situation is a reflection of the national trend to keep wages flat. Employers justify it as a response to the economic downturn of years past, and it is disguised in shiny happy things like one-time bonuses and workplace enhancements like game tables and relaxation spaces. Workers need to insist that wages rise at a regular, steady level. After all, it is good for the employer to have fairly compensated workers who want to remain with OHSU, plus it is good for the economy to have workers making more and therefore spending more money. There is a solid article in the May 25 titled “One-Time Bonuses and Perks Muscle Out Pay Raises for Workers” that is timely to current union negotiations.

  8. I am a 27 year veteran of OHSU. I can assure you the OHSU that is today is no where near the company I started with 27 years ago. There is zero investment in their employees. There is no incentive for hard work, to take on progressive responsibility or quite frankly to stay loyal to OHSU in any long term capacity. Maybe that is the way of the world since we expect people to only stay at a job for 4.5 years. It takes a year to learn your job and at least a year to dial in to how OHSU works. How is repetitive hiring and onboarding of workforce good for the company? As a reward for my years of service I’ve been demoted three times in the last five years. I’ve taken an $11 an hour cut in pay. My belief is that once you tip over that 25 year mark management marks you as “making too much money for a STAFF position” and believe me in this elitist institution you know for certain you are “just staff”.
    Am I less competent? No I am not. I’ve trained managers that didn’t have a clue how to read a Oracle GL report and when they’ve failed post training I’ve spoon fed them the information so they could report up the food chain, but I was deemed not WORTH my salary.
    I am close to retirement, that’s what I am. Why, you ask, did I take such a position – because I can do this job in my sleep and I have 2.75 years to ride this out to collect my PERS.
    No it should not take SEVENTEEN YEARS to reach the top of the scale. Five years would be optimal. One would hope the employer would be invested in keeping an employees career moving forward, expanding their knowledge base, promoting their successes.
    27 years later – here are the differences off the top of my head: We pay for insurance – our benefit dollars no longer cover even the basics. We pay for our retirement – unheard of in 1988. Parking has quadrupled – but we offer a nearly free bus pass to ride the Crazy 8 up the hill.
    Imagine being a new employee looking forward to 17 years to make it to the top of the scale. Meanwhile minimum wage is close to what you’re making in quartile 1. Imagine being a single mom on that wage.
    What OHSU is doing isn’t right. I can guarantee it doesn’t take 17 years to make a six figure salary if you’re in the “right” category of management. I am willing to bet the price of giving AFSCME staff a decent raise annually is less than the bonuses of the top tier combined.
    Working hard – doesn’t get you anywhere – that is the OHSU message.

  9. I feel like there is a big difference between long term employees and us folks who are newer to OHSU. I hear people say that OHSU is just getting worse – my pay increases are lower, my benefits cover less, on and on. But that is happening EVERYWHERE. The economy has been declining for a long time and the “company life” isn’t what it used to be for everyone. When I talk with my friends I know that I’m lucky to be making what I’m making and with our benefits. I think lots of times people who have worked here for a long time only compare OHSU to what it used to be – not to other employers. Maybe some folks need to get out there and see what other type of job you can get at another employer. See what that pays and see what your benefits will be. No matter how this pay progression thing shakes out, I know that newer employees will likely be sacrificed by AFSCME to ensure that folks who have been here a long time don’t have to share the pain.

    1. If you look at our economic proposals in no way do they sacrifice younger employees. In fact we are getting some heat for our vacation proposal which adds days in the first five years but not for older workers. The fact is that young workers are vitally important to both OHSU and the Union, but it doesn’t have to be either/or – job growth at OHSU can create an environment where everyone can win and no one has to be sacrificed. What we need to realize is that there comes a time when the fight moves away from the bargaining table and into the hands of the entire union membership. What we do together, when that time comes, will determine the outcome of bargaining.

    2. Why should we feel compelled to go out and see what it’s like at other employers? We work at OHSU. I will compare my benefits and pay to whatever I see fit, such as to other unionized workplaces. Others can go ahead and feel lucky instead. It never fails to amaze me when people suggest that since there are employers that provide lousy pay and benefits, those of us who’ve fought to get good pay and benefits should be dragged down to that level. OHSU prides itself on being a world-class institution–it should (and can afford to) compensate its employees accordingly.

    3. @Jake Johnson – You are right, there is a big difference between long-term employees and newer folks to OHSU …it’s called experience. It is hard to see benefits and pay chip away every contract while your workload continues to increase. The frustration you may read in these comments is that we have had enough of the decreases. We have an amazing workforce here and am glad you are part of it. Speaking only for myself, I want our workplace environment to improve for all employees, long-term, new, unclassified and nurses.

  10. Jennifer, I think you miss the point. It seems like all I ever hear from the old bully around lab is how great it used to be and it is so bad now. I think a reality check is actually necessary. I came from another large local employer – got a raise, a promotion later here at OHSU, and I pay less for benefits than I did 5 years ago. Ask your neighbors and friends. I will excerise my rights by working elsewhere and frankly the worst part about being at OHSU is not getting the vacation I want because someone else hired here first. She is worst performer. Always calling in sick on Fridays or Mondays. But don’t touch her because the Union has her back. She has been here 20 years and earned the right to ensure we do more than her and she gets vacation first. Jennifer, compare to what you want – but your judgement and perspective are narrow.

    1. I know what it’s like to be the least senior employee and never get my first choice of vacation. I was here about 8 years before I got any time off at all around the fall/winter holidays, and that was just because the more-senior person in my department lost track of the deadline to submit the paperwork. The union has just negotiated some changes to the vacation/holiday scheduling process that is intended to help ease this problem for newer employees.

      That being said, it seems a bit presumptuous to assume I haven’t asked neighbors and friends about this, and to then make the leap to call my perspective narrow. You don’t know me (beyond a blog comment or two) or what has shaped my thoughts on this. However, I’m a union activist, so, of course, my perspective will have a pro-worker slant.

    2. Some of us have worked at other employers. What benefits at OHSU are so much better than these other employers? I don’t see many other than our retirement and our current cost of living adjustments. Benefits can be cheaply (or free) at many other top-quality employers and hospitals.

      We know that the age of pension plans and early retirement are over, but I don’t see that OHSU’s benefit package is drastically better than the competition. Our pay is definitely lower than most of our competitors.

    3. MaryL I want to point out that the person you are referring to who calls in sick on Mondays and Fridays all the time wouldn’t be here if your manager actually managed their employees. Its not impossible to fire a union member it just requires a process to be followed and it sounds like your manager is too lazy to use it.

  11. Why is no one talking about bad management at OHSU, especially within ITG? Maybe bring PWC back in to rectify the management, come on Dr. joe! Clearly he can’t be this blind, he’s an eye doctor! What is it like to be so disenfranchised from the reality? Maybe the Board needs to be revamped?

  12. I had a long response planned, but will keep in short in the interests of time.

    For anyone who is talking about the compensation package here and comparing to other employers, PLEASE make sure you are comparing apples and apples, not apples and oranges. There is a huge preponderance to lump everything into the same category and claim it is the same. That doesn’t do you or the reader any credit.

    Do everyone a favor; compare like with like and then compare over time and see what that picture looks like. It also helps to control for outliers, especially when doing trending.

    I have done all this for many years now and will leave you with this simple thought; OHSU was once a world-class, highly respected, employer-of-choice institution with numerous accolades. Over the years that has degraded to the point where it is hard to justify working here and I rarely, if ever, hear an accolade that is not from some source inside the system (or at least closely connected with it).

  13. I’ve stuck it out for 16 years now at OHSU. I’m ready and prepared to strike and/or move on if contract bargaining comes down to these and previous unreasonable proposals.

  14. I Have to agree with you guys. The pay cut is absolutely horrible esp since OHSU capital holdings last year was over 900 million. There is not reason that they can not increase our wages and decrease our rate to top out pay. I really think OHSU and their Financial guru’s need to start listening to the employees who work dam hard to keep this place running. If it were not for us, there would be a smaller OHSU. I also think AFSCME needs to start getting tougher with OHSU at the bargaining table and stop trying to “screw ” the employees that work so hard for OHSU. We will not take a decrease nor will we stand up for being pushed around.

    Concerned Union Member

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