Bargaining today was largely taken up with finalizing several agreements left over from last week’s interest-based bargaining session and introducing proposals on issues that weren’t concluded in IBB. Both teams had a substantial set of proposals that will be considered next week and in the following weeks during traditional bargaining and mediation. We are approaching the end game.
The big development today was OHSU proposing a long list of changes to the application of seniority when coupled with disciplinary actions. Management stated a desire to tie contract rights to an employee’s performance.
In short, OHSU proposes that employees who have had a written reprimand or higher in the last 12 months:
- They lose the right to exercise seniority for accepting voluntary overtime.
- They lose the right to be a union steward.
- They lose the right to exercise seniority to bid on vacation.
- They lose the right to exercise seniority to bid on holiday time off.
- They lose the right to job bid.
- They lose their layoff rights (including initial selection for layoff and displacement rights).
In addition, employees who have had discipline at the third step (final written warning, pay reduction, suspension) in the last twelve months:
- Lose the right to be placed from the preferential hire list.
- Lose their next progression increase in pay.
These proposals, in addition to being radical changes to traditional seniority rights, raise a number of questions:
- Is it hard to receive a written reprimand? Can you imagine needing to take five sick days over the course of three months? Can you imagine making a mistake when entering data? Can you imagine getting really sick and not filing FMLA in time to protect yourself?
- Could the ability to suspend the contract rights of employees who have active discipline encourage managers to give out more discipline?
- How many employees could survive being under the microscope if it were to the employer’s advantage to discipline people?
- Would this change make it more or less likely for an employee to grieve a written reprimand and fight it to the end, rather than work with his/her manager to improve performance?
- Isn’t this double discipline — giving management two bites at the apple? Isn’t being disciplined punishment enough?
- Should a pay raise that an employee is counting on be tied to discipline?
- Managers can already use progressive discipline to fire poor-performing employees — do they also need the power to take employees’ contract rights away before they fire them?
- Is there an argument to be made for linking higher-level discipline to PHL placement or to things like bumping rights after layoff?
- Shouldn’t OHSU be thinking of ways to reward good performance instead (instead of, you know, dragging everyone down to average)?
Tell us what you think. The floor is open.