6/4 Bargaining Session — Pharmacy Represents!

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One of the biggest surprises of the bargaining season so far started to shape up on Wednesday when email traffic started to blow up with Local 328 members from the Pharmacy department  planning to attend bargaining. Honestly, we expected two or three at a time to cycle in and out over the course of the day.

It was an incredible lift for the bargaining team when almost 20 Pharmacy employees, along with a few other members, showed up with signed petition in hand, to directly confront the management bargaining team with their concerns about OHSU’s slide to the middle of the pack. You can read the petition here. Please go to our Facebook page to check out the group photo and use the comments to thank these members for their support.

OHSU Responds

The day was taken up with an exchange of counter-proposals; OHSU responded to the union first, and later the union responded, in part, to OHSU.

There were some highs and lows to OHSU’s response. The high point was OHSU’s proposal to raise the minimum wage at OHSU to $15.00/hour, in increments over the next three years. This came as a surprise to the union, but frankly we are pleased they made this proposal. They are doing the right thing by low-wage workers — now they need to step up and do the right thing for the rest of our members.

Unfortunately, there was little good news in the rest of OHSU’s counters to the union’s proposals.

  • OHSU rejected the union’s proposal to raise health-care contributions for members
  • OHSU rejected the union’s proposal to stop benchmarking wages to the middle of the market and use the 66th percentile instead
  • OHSU rejected the union’s vacation-increase proposal
  • OHSU rejected the union’s proposal for parking expense relief by having a parking-fee holiday in December
  • OHSU rejected the union’s proposal for weekend differentials
  • OHSU rejected the union’s proposal for subsidy pay for members called up to active duty in the military
  • OHSU rejected the union’s across-the board (cost of living) pay increase proposal
  • OHSU counter-proposed across-the-board pay increases of 1.25%, 1.25%, 1.00% and 1.25% over the next four years

We also received a lengthy verbal preamble to their response, telling us that OHSU has already shared its prosperity with us, and now it’s time for us to give back and to come down to Earth. We just don’t realize how good we have it. Who knew?

You get the idea.

Now, it would be unfair to say that no progress has been made. OHSU did give indications that we could make progress on some of our other economic proposals, but the scope on which they seemed willing to move was quite limited.


The union spent most of the day working in caucus on our response. Altogether, between the two sides, there are almost 50 specific economic proposals in play — that’s a lot of moving parts. We responded in detail with two packages of proposals that could generate some forward progress. None of the progress or exchanges resulted in any tentative agreements on Thursday, and none addressed or made progress on what we consider the major economic issues.

All of the major economic proposals and counter-proposals will be addressed next week in mediation. In the next few days we will publish an article explaining the mediation process and what to expect going forward.

45 thoughts on “6/4 Bargaining Session — Pharmacy Represents!”

  1. “Give back and come down to earth”…really?! That seems condescending and dismissive of this entire process. Let’s stay strong!

  2. I was at bargaining on Thursday as an observation and our team is working very hard for us .I was there primarily to support our members who work evening and night shift so our shift differential does not get cut.

  3. Disgraceful. Absolutely disgraceful.

    How utterly infuriating.

    I may be back with additional comments after I cool down. And I’m not talking about the metro area weather.

  4. $15 minimum wage is good.
    But I smell a rat. I’ll bet this is an ohsu statagey to enlist a large group of underpaid employees to vote to accept the contract. I think they deserved $15 years ago.
    Big thanks to Pharmacy!

  5. On the $15/hour, I think OHSU sees the writing on the wall that it’s likely to be mandated by state or city law, and they want to get ahead of it and use it as a bargaining chip now to justify paying lower wages and smaller pay increases all around.

  6. They’ve shared their prosperity with us?!! How and when? Can they be more specific? What a disrespectful attitude to have toward their employees.

  7. Already shared the prosperity with us? Somebody please SHOW ME where they shared this!?? Every aspect of my working life is in worse shape than it has been in decades; financially, benefits, advancement, training, on-campus costs and most of all stability. I literally bring home less money today than I did 5 years ago.

    If this is prosperity, I would hate to see what a downturn looks like!

    1. OHSU beleives you are already paid above market, get better than market health insurance, better than market vacation and better than differentials and better than market retirement. That’s what they tell us. They don’t bring up the cost of meals and parking.

      1. If that’s their belief then they need to show the numbers to back it up.

        And if they won’t show the numbers then I can just say they’re an untruthful . . . sack . . . and have that hold just as much credibility.

      2. OHSU is delusional. Three people have declined a job offer from my department because the wages for the classification are unreasonably low. And the health benefits, retirement, etc. do not compensate for the $4/hour pay cut on average we have been begging someone to accept; knowing full well it will take them about five years to get back to the hourly wage they are already making today with other Portland employers that are willing to compensate accordingly (with between 6 months to 2 years in their current positions).

        Oh well. At least it saves us the trouble of having that awkward conversation where we mention Parking’s waiting list is about seven years…

  8. I am a pharmacist at OHSU with great experience. If these changes go into effect by management, I will immediately leave OHSU. Management thinks that we don’t have other options due to the glut of pharmacists on the market, but our OHSU experience makes us very valuable. I have a strong network going and I regularly get recruited by outside companies. Mangement needs to realize that we don’t have to put up with these constant takebacks. There are many other pharmacist jobs with good pay and benefits. Many of these other jobs don’t have the hour plus commute, the expensive parking, and the salaried job status.

    Management took tons from us and now they want to take more. Yet they say that they have already given us more than what the market bears.

    I could leave OHSU, right now, for a better paying job with more vacation days. However, I choose to stay here until this contract negotiation is over. I stay here to fight management and win. I want to fight for a better situation here at OHSU for everyone. Mangement thinks that our pharmacy team is weak, and that we will shrink into our dark corners at the moment of any bargaining pressure. According to management, we are easy game that will be trampled by their demands. Not this time.

    I was very proud to see pharmacy so reprsented at the AFSCME meeting. We must now ready ourselves for a strike.
    Yen Pham may have been a great budget cruncher at Rite-Aid, but she has never had to face a union strike before. It is time to put the pressure on management. It is time to make them feel the weight of our unity. Management needs to suffer a defeat so that they can be the ones that come back down to earth.

    While we prepare ourselves for the battle needed for victory, I also urge all of you to keep networking outside of OHSU. There are plenty of good opportunities outside of these walls, contrary to what pharmacy management is saying about the oversupply of pharmacists. Professional options are a good thing. Desperation is the mother of bad union contracts, so never feel like you are trapped at OHSU.

    1. Well said! It is also just plain frustrating that we are not values for our experience and expertise. You can not replace pharmacists with new grads and expect their knowledge base to be the same! OHSU needs to step up and reward the excellent care we provide. They need to value our skill set and realize their turnover is way too high. Pharmacy management needs to have our back and fight FOR us, not try to take away even more!

    2. Very good post. You are 100% correct! Employees need to seek out other opportunities and not feel like they have to be here. People get comfortable and that’s what keeps them putting up with the BS that OHSU is dumping out!

      I’m right there with you…I’m waiting until my next year vesting point so I can bounce with my OHSU contributed dough$$$$

    3. Well said water boy! As a pharmacist with 5+ years experience I get recruited all the time. I am not afraid to leave OHSU but I am afraid that OHSU will be left with all new grads with no experience. Unfortunately, our pharmacy managers have no clinical experience to guide them either. It will become a pharmacy department where new grads come to get 3-5 years experience and then leave for better wages! A revolving door department!!!!

  9. Frank,

    Why does the food cost so much? How much money does OHSU make from it’s food? Can we get food trucks to help provide some other choices and competition?

    Also I echo the thanks for the ice cream last Friday.

    Anthony

    1. My two cents on the food issue. When you buy food from an OHSU cafe, you are supporting OHSU employees with living wage salaries and benefits. OHSU chooses to make each department ‘pay its own way’, so they charge enough to remain in the black.

      As for food trucks, if OHSU leadership is unwilling to subsidize food for patient’s families and its employees, I don’t believe they would be interested in providing food trucks. An alternative place to get food would be a competitive downward pressure on prices. Although I am sure the employer would happily agree if the food trucks could be OHSU owned and operated by non-union employees.

  10. ITS A TRAP !!!!
    A $15 trap but its still a trap. They say we are over paid now and they want to get ahead of the game and pay the $15 now for they can give themselves a pat on the back. What will they say next contract ? I do think some people are over paid and its not the workers that make the hospital run every day. They showed time over time that they do not respect us. A 3% raise when Portland cost of living is 19% higher than the country, rent is $1400 a month, child care is $10 – $20 hour. They love to compare OHSU to similar organizations like PSU and UW ( See Parking blog ) but they forget that PSU is not a hospital and UW is in Washington state. They forget that Legacy and Providence don’t charge for parking. OHSU gets our money one way or another Parking, Food, or paying OHSU for treatment when we are sick or injured. They love to throw out how they are “Leaders” but they are always looking back to “industry standards” and the “market”. Is it me or has the world changed were leaders look back and not forward?
    I remember when leaders looked forward and had the mind set that the rest of the world can catch up if they can, that leaders drive change into the positive not the negative. A leader is side by side with those that are in the trenches everyday, they are the first to raise, last to go to bed, the last to eat and the last to take shelter and the FIRST to go without. They understand that they are where they are at not by their actions but by the actions of those that serve under them.
    Lets all give Pharmacy big OORAH !

    1. Don’t forget, the $15 may not happen for 3 years because the offer is incremental, few will see $15 this year.

      Love that comment in the ohsu email that they must conserve funds because healthcare costs are expected to go up. Guess what? I predict my healthcare costs will also skyrocket next October .

      Creative writing at its best!

  11. a couple of comments I put on the Parking Price Increasing article on O2:
    1. “Late last year (2013), the administration awarded its executive team nearly $900,000 in bonuses split among nine people. President Joe Robertson received $182,000 on top of his $959,072 yearly salary.” – OregonLive March, 2014

    Yet, the OHSU Management bargaining team told us in an email Monday that a decent cost of living increase is “not sustainable”.

    Parking costs are slated to increase 3% every year.

    It does appear that OHSU has joined the ranks of big business whose bottom line is all that matters.

    2. Wake up AFSCME members. You are the U in Union. The power of many is what gave us weekends and ended child labor. To be complacent is to only give OHSU and other big business what it wants. A compliant, quiet workforce happy to trudge into their job and go home to their TV and antidepressants.

    If we want change, we have to come out in force and let OHSU know that we want a fair contract. That’s all we’re asking. Well, maybe affordable parking too. :)

  12. Inpatient pharmacy unite!

    Do not bow down to management’s demands. This hospital cannot function without our services. Patients will literally die if we shutdown. Even a 1-day strike is so powerful. The amount of errors that would happen if they brought in replacement pharmacists could kill patients. Management has to meet us on some level or face dire consequences. Lawsuits could far exceed the amount of value that we are asking for on this contract.

    We have power. Sign the petition. Dig your heels in and prepare for strike. We are not easily replaceable commodities. If management wants to test us, let them face the backlash of potentially maimed and dead patients.

    1. I don’t think it’s a very strong rallying point to try and get people “excited” over the idea of a one-day strike proving things to management with “maimed and dead patients” as the evidence. I don’t agree with everything in the proposals either but I think you’ve taken it a step too far in your fervor.

      1. Yeah, not the message we want to send. First a one day strike would prove nothing, second, be assured that OHSU is preparing for a strike, and while that shouldn’t deter us, their preparations will include patient safety precautions including transfers if necessary. I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but no matter which course we take, we will always care about patient safety.

  13. OHSU’s rejections are shameful. We should not give in to their proposal.

    They are engaging with “race to the bottom” mentality. This is not long-term thinking. This is not showing your employees they are appreciated. This is telling AFSCME-represented employees that OHSU sees them at items on a budget to cut for executive bonuses. Didn’t Furnstahl just report OHSU is doing great?

    Employees are still recovering our pay, benefits and staffing capacities cut during the recession. Now is not the time to make further cuts. Now is the time to reward employees who have stuck it through hard times and continue to work hard.

    We are not asking for more than our fair share. We have been working without our fair share for 3 years now! We are asking for the ability to provide for ourselves and our families!

  14. Pharmacists are not the only ones who are mad. AFSCME bargaining team: please survey your union about our opinions before accepting this crummy deal. We are all mad about it. All you need to do is ask.

  15. I’m appalled at the way the OHSU management team talked down to our bargaining team / us that we were asking for pie in the sky and that they have shared with us! We the members who work evenings / nights give up a lot to be here for patients & co-workers .
    And now OHSU wants to cut our shift differentials. I know that if it did happen, I would have to find a 2nd job just to pay the bills and I’m sure others would have to as well. We work full time , we should not have to have two jobs to be able to live. I know that Monday night sitting in the 3rd floor cafeteria with Diane Lovell, just about everyone who stopped by were very upset and mad about the shift differentials . Wanting to know what they could do about it. I reminded them that if we did strike , that OHSU might / could lose their Magnet status ( it wasn’t just the Nurses who helped them get it, it was all of us as well).
    I’m just sayin is all. I’m mad as HELL!

  16. Wow, another round of bargaining, and yet more evidence that OHSU management doesn’t really care about its employees.

    We’re more than just a bottom line. OHSU is much, much more than it’s management team. WE are OHSU, from the clerk checking in the patient, to the guy who empties out the bathroom garbage, to the person who helps guide a student along the journey to a degree — WE ARE OHSU.

    Sure, you can replace us — you can even make us want to leave — but you will not easily replace our breadth and depth of knowledge and experience.

    The fight here at OHSU mirrors strongly the fight happening in Wisconsin, and all around this country. We are not respected; we are seen money-takers, who give little or nothing back. This has to change. This “little guy” is really tired of taking it in the shorts every day, while someone sitting in his office at the top of the hill, with a marvelous view of Mt. Hood (and free parking, no doubt!) tells me that I don’t earn my keep, and adds that I should be grateful for the beatings I get.

    No thanks. I’ve had enough beatings for a lifetime.

  17. “Doernbecher makes US News best hospitals list in 7 pediatrics specialities. ….. thank you”

    Ohsu please remember to thank afscme members too during bargaining. CNAs, HUCs, RSAs, food makers, dishwashers, bed makers, floor crew, logistics, transportation, parking, public safety, PHARMACY, interpretors, ITG, and any others I’ve missed.

    I’m losing my trust in the mission; integraty, diversity, inclusion, respect at the U, yah, yah, yah,…..

    We are not millionaires. We are not idiots. We are hard workers. We are human beings worthy of a living wage.

  18. It’s great to see Pharmacy show solidarity and communicate their concerns to management. Well done! Members and management have noticed.

  19. Someone in my work area said that if the pharmacists strike, they have to shut down the hospital. I heard this and wondered about it’s accuracy. Is this true?

    1. No they don’t have to shut down the hospital. Generally, it’s wishful thinking for workers to think that they can get someone else to strike for them. The power that workers have is the power to with hold their labor and it only works if we all do it together.

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