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.
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.