6/11 Bargaining Session — Mediation Begins

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We concluded our first day of mediation on Thursday, June 11. After starting before 8:00 a.m. to prepare for the arrival of the mediator, the team felt pretty wrung out as we finally cleared the building after 8:00 p.m. — a long day. Next week the union team meets in caucus on Thursday, all day, in preparation for our second and final mediation session the following week on Thursday, June 25.

OHSU has stated that they do not intend to extend the contract if we do not reach agreement at that time — it feels like an intimidation tactic to us. If we get an agreement on June 25, it will be because it’s a good agreement, not because of pressure tactics from the employer.

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Mediation Report

The OHSU and AFSCME bargaining teams met jointly to start mediation and hear the opening remarks of the mediator. She stressed the confidentiality of the proceedings — mediation proposals are confidential unless the parties agree otherwise. After the mediator’s introduction to the process, the teams split up into separate rooms and spent the rest of the day, about ten hours of it, exchanging packages of proposals.

We can’t report the mediation proposals and package, but we can say that some progress is being made. However, the teams are far apart on major economics. We did settle some matters and execute a number of tentative agreements, including:

  • Severance benefits: employees will have the option to receive the cash equivalent of the COBRA benefits if they choose
  • Unauthorized absences: employees will have an opportunity to explain extenuating circumstances
  • Basic computer-skills training: employees will receive some paid training time for such training
  • Preferential hire list: employees returning to work from the PHL will not lose credit for seniority no matter the reason they went on the PHL

The bargaining team pays attention to the comments on the blog and Facebook and to the actions of members and work units who support us. It’s incredibly encouraging to see members stand up and it makes a real difference at the table — everyone notices, including management, when members get active.

17 thoughts on “6/11 Bargaining Session — Mediation Begins”

  1. Could you please explain the ramifications of “OHSU has stated that they do not intend to extend the contract if we do not reach agreement”? What does this mean for AFSCME employees?

    I just want to be prepared.

    Thank you for all the hard work and long hours the Bargaining Team is putting in. We really appreciate and support all that you are doing!

      1. I appreciate the strike FAQ that was just posted but I think many of us are still awaiting information on what it means for us practically if the contract is not extended.

        1. The biggest impact will be if you are receiving the PERS subsidy, that will end. Other than that the employer is obligated to maintain all terms and conditions of employment until a new agreement is reached. So, as a practical matter, other then the PERS subsidy, members won’t see a difference.

  2. I just looked at the Pre-Strike Poll and the issue I am most invested in personally is the recovery of $ lost to PERS employees. I was hired at the end of 2012 and I did not know or understand that I would soon see a loss of 6% of my paychecks because of a change to the PERS benefits. If I understand correctly I do not stand to gain from AFSCME’s current proposal, which would only affect those employees who are currently receiving the 3% temporary subsidy from OHSU to their income to ease the blow, the blow which I took in full; the blow that has led to a loss of income that matches almost to the dollar what is now on a line of credit. I could not afford this loss, was not prepared for it and find it abhorrent that employees like me are not included in the proposal you are making to OHSU for PERS employees. I would happily stand behind fellow employees over issues like vacation time, progression increases, keeping wages above market average, etc. I care about those things too!

    I will happily respond to this poll if/when I am included in the PERS proposal. However, I have lost all motivation having been left out of anything to be gained for PERS employees. I am disheartened that the bargaining team is not looking for a win and recovery of losses to all PERS employees.

    I was hopeful and grateful when I heard that our bargaining team was putting a recovery to PERS employees on the table. Now I am incensed. Please tell me I have misunderstood your proposal.

  3. I think you should be providing information about what a strike would entail, how it will affect your job, will you get paid, etc. these are questions that need to be answered by the union so that there is an informed response and informed union members. This information should go out via OHSU email and not a response on this blog so that everyone receives it.

  4. I agree, Jenn. I was under the impression we would be able to take vacation if we strike, but when I asked this question of others, no one knows. Then I heard we might get paid by the union, but how much is not known, and i’ve only heard that from one other person.

    1. What I was told (by a colleague who’s been here 25+ years, so I believe it to be reliable) is that if you have pre-scheduled vacation, they’re obligated to pay you for it.

      I would doubt they would pay vacation during the strike if it wasn’t already scheduled.

      1. Even if vacation is prescheduled, I suspect that would cancel it citing an emergency. We could maybe sort that out with a grievance later, but in the meantime you would either report to work or tell them that you are not on vacation but on strike.

  5. If we do not come to an agreement within the 15 days of mediation then file the impasse. Do not let OHSU stretch the mediation further to weaken us down. Show them we mean business by filing the impasse and move the process along.

  6. Well, if we do go on strike, I’m sure that OHSU will be helpful in providing slogans for us:

    What do we want?
    Better Pay!
    When do we want it?
    17 years from now!

  7. I’m pretty sure we do not get paid during a strike AND you can not use vacation or sick time. I doubt OHSU can last more than 24 hours with ANY AFSCME represented employee working. We make the hospital run! I vote to stay strong and prepare for a strike! Do not accept any cuts!

    1. Of course you don’t get paid while on strike, nor can you use vacation or sick time. OHSU lasted 56 days when the nurses went on strike. Strikes aren’t symbolic gestures, they are serious business.

  8. Another C+ report card/evaluation for me. Another anniversary pin, I can’t pay the bills with a $5 pin. Another health benefit requirement hoop to jump through, an email from human resources that my short term disability was miscalculated, a suggestion to take care of myself. …… Please respond to the strike poll afscme members, 100 people can’t strike to make a difference for 5600 members.

  9. Is there a way to obtain support or sanction a strike with other unions at the hospital? The nurses did not do this during their strike, but if we had the support of ONA and the various construction unions we would be in a MUCH stronger position.

    1. ONA does and has supported us and when and if the time comes I am sure they will do more. But by contact and by law as public employees, they cannot refuse to cross a picket line if it isn’t their own contract which is in dispute. As far as other unions honoring picket lines, many will, but first we have to have effective picket lines. Again, when and if the time comes we will need picket captains and member volunteers to make all this happen.

  10. I think many of us not commenting are also ready to strike if needed. We are all feeling undervalued and over worked. I know in my department most of us, if not all, will strike if asked.

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