Overview of AFSCME Local 328/OHSU Tentative Agreement

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AFSCME Local 328 and OHSU tentatively agreed to a contract on Thurs., June 25, at approximately 11:00 p.m. after a two-day stretch of mediating for 28½ of the previous 37 hours. The agreement marks the culmination of four months of bargaining during which the parties met every week and opened and came to agreement on dozens of issues, both economic and non-economic.

Next week we will distribute a complete analysis of every issue. For now, we want to present the major issues that we know our represented employees are most interested in. We want to emphasize that among the issues you will read about next week (but that are not included in this update) are many that represent significant gains for our members.

We will hold the ratification vote online during the week of July 6 — exact times and instructions for participation will be posted online, as well as emailed to members, next week. You must be a dues-paying member in order to participate in the ratification vote. If you are currently a fair-share-fee payer, you may join the union in order to vote — we will present instructions next week on how to do that as well.

In addition to the distribution of written materials containing explanations of the complete agreement and all contract changes, the union will also hold worksite meetings during the week of July 6; at least one of these meetings will be live-streamed and archived for later viewing. We will announce times and locations next week for those who want to attend and ask questions about the contract.

Now for the highlights of the agreement —

Four-Year Agreement: The parties have agreed to a four-year contract.

Across-the-Board Wage Increases: OHSU’s original response to our wage proposal was for a four year agreement with wage increases totaling 4.75% (1.25%, 1.25%, 1% and 1.25%) over the life of the contract. Our settlement is for a four-year agreement with wage increases totaling 10% over the course of the contract:

  • Year 1: 3%
  • Year 2: 2.25%
  • Year 3: 2.25%
  • Year 4: 2.5%

The union insisted on 3% the first year so that PERS employees who currently receive the subsidy will not see a decrease in pay as a result of the subsidy ending on June 30.

Pay Progression: This was OHSU’s proposal to stretch the time needed to reach the top pay step out to 17 years. This, in the bargaining team’s opinion, was the single most important proposal to OHSU and represented the single most difficult issue for our bargaining team to come to grips with. It was a focus of our strike poll. Our members told us that a strike was a serious possibility if OHSU refused to compromise on this, but that most could live with a reasonable compromise. It was one of the last issues we moved on, and only at the eleventh hour in mediation did it become obvious that no settlement was possible unless the union made some movement. We ended up with a 13-year pay progression—less than half of what OHSU would have imposed without a union to bargain with. This movement opened the door to a settlement that contains many gains for our members in other areas.

Market-Based Wage Adjustments: This was a key area for the union and one where we believe we made major gains for members, although not many will see the day-to-day impact of these changes. The market-based wage committee adjusts salary ranges up or down to keep pace with the market. The current practice is to compare the middle of an OHSU pay range to the midpoint of a market pay range for a comparable occupation; if the OHSU pay is found to be above or below the market, a pay range increase or reduction can occur based on criteria set forth in a letter of agreement.

  • The union negotiated a change in the criteria that trigger a pay-range adjustment, so that no downward adjustment can occur unless pay for an OHSU classification has been more than 10% above market for two consecutive years.
  • In addition, we negotiated language that makes an upward adjustment easier than before — now an upward range movement is triggered when pay for an OHSU classification is below market by 5% for two consecutive years
  • Finally, we negotiated an agreement that when a downward adjustment does occur, any employee paid above the new pay range is “redlined” (held at their current rate of pay) rather than moved down to the top step in the new, lower range.
  • All look-back periods will be reset at the start of this agreement, which means that no downward adjustments of any kind can occur for at least two years.
  • This is a major victory on an issue that was a centerpiece of our contract campaign.

UPP Changes: Our strike poll showed that members did not strongly oppose this employer proposal provided the union could make some modifications. We were able to gain some important benefits for our members from this.

  • Pay-Range “Push”: Upon plan implementation, all pay ranges will move up 5% at the bottom of the range and up 6% at the top of the range. (OHSU’s original proposal was for the top of the range to move 5%.) This means that all employees within 5% of the bottom of the range will see an immediate increase in pay in addition to the across-the board increases also occurring that year. Only people within the bottom 5% of the range will get an immediate increase, but those paid above the bottom 5% the range will have an extra 6% of wage growth available to them. PERS employees will be able to use this wage growth to project higher average salaries toward retirement. Employees at the top step or the longevity step will have an extra 6% to grow their wages, and any time spent at top step counting toward their longevity increase before this range movement will be kept on the books and credited to them.
  • UPP Pay Conversion: Upon plan implementation, UPP employees will receive a 6% pay increase in addition to any other contractual pay increases; the 6% retirement contribution pickup will cease. UPP employees will be able to immediately put the 6% pay increase into a tax-protected retirement plan and still have the full retirement contribution, but it will now be based on a higher average salary. We bargained that OHSU will provide financial counseling to employees upon request, so that the benefits of moving the pay increase into retirement are understood; the union strongly recommends that employees take advantage of this. UPP employees who put the 6% pay increase into a tax-free retirement account will see no reduction in retirement benefits and no reduction in take-home pay.
  • Plan Implementation Date: The UPP package will be implemented in January 2016. After the PERS contribution changes, OHSU had promised to not make changes to UPP for five years and was prepared to honor that promise. However, this plan provides an opportunity for employees to start moving higher on the wage scale and putting more money into retirement because of the range push upward, so the union was agreeable to an earlier start date because of the advantages to employees created by the higher pay ranges.

Shift Differentials: OHSU had proposed major reductions in shift differential pay. The union was able to fight off the majority of these take-back proposals.

$15.00 Minimum Wage: This is a major gain for our low-wage workers — one that was, with all due credit, initiated by OHSU as part of their economic proposals. The union was glad to agree to this proposal.

  • Following all contractually agreed pay adjustments as of the first full pay period following contract ratification, the base pay rate of any employee making less than $12.75/hour will be increased to $12.75.
  • In July 2016, any employee make less than $13.75/hour will see their pay increased to $13.75.
  • In July 2017, any employee making less than $15.00/hour will be increased to $15.00.
  • In addition, under the market-based pay agreement, any pay range for which the midpoint is $15.00/hour or less will be protected against downward adjustment for the life of the contract.

Salaried Compensation & Vacation: The union successfully resolved our salaried members’ two biggest priorities.

  • Guaranteed annual pay increases of a minimum of 1.5%
  • Increased vacation accruals:
    • 1-5 years: increased by 3 days
    • 5-15 years: increased by 2 days
    • Over 15 years: increased by 1 day

Pharmacy: OHSU initially came after Pharmacy differentials in a big way, proposing to eliminate their weekend and night-shift differentials completely. This was the one group of members who really stood up for themselves and each other—circulating petitions, holding major one-on-one discussions about bargaining and showing up with a huge turnout at one of our bargaining sessions.

As a result, management completely withdrew their proposed take-backs on weekend and night differentials for pharmacy techs and significantly reduced their proposed take-backs on night differentials for pharmacists. The night-shift differential for pharmacists will be reduced from 20.5% to 18.5% on July 1 and to 16.5% in July 2016, with no further reductions for the life of the contract. The union did not succeed in increasing compensation for salaried pharmacists who work extra shifts.

Pharmacists will also benefit from new guaranteed annual increases for salaried personnel and increased salaried vacation accruals.

Health-Insurance Security:  While the union was not able to prevail with its proposed increases in the employer health-insurance contributions, a four-year contract ensures that members will have longer-term health-insurance security.

Seniority/Performance: This was another major issue for OHSU. If you recall, OHSU originally proposed linking the suspension of a wide variety of seniority-based benefits to written reprimands. This was an issue that pretty much set our hair on fire as union activists and staff. However, we heard from a lot of members who felt differently and felt that the union shouldn’t be overly protective of poorly performing employees. This is one of those areas where the union would have preferred to make no changes, but just as we had areas where we could not walk away without changes, so did OHSU, and all bargaining entails compromise.

What we ultimately agreed to was NO linkage to written reprimands, but once an employee reaches the third step of discipline (immediately prior to termination), temporary suspension of some seniority-based privileges could be included in a final written warning. The items that managers may (or not, at their discretion) include in a final written warning are: vacation/holiday bidding, voluntary-overtime bidding and job bidding—managers can revoke up to two of these for up to one year. All of this remains subject to the grievance procedure if an employee feels that s/he was not disciplined for just cause.

Holiday Pay for Relief Employees:  Earlier in bargaining, the union agreed to additional requirements for relief employees’ availability, with the intent to later negotiate for a holiday-pay benefit for relief employees. Finally, late in mediation, OHSU agreed that any relief employee working a shift on a holiday will receive four additional hours of straight-time pay.

Contracting-Out Severance Expansion: The contractual definition of contracting out has been broadened to include displacements due to mergers and acquisitions, making more employees eligible for this important benefit.

Voluntary Retirement Incentive:  Later this year, many employees will be eligible for a voluntary retirement incentive worth up to $20,000. The details of eligibility and the various options available to employees will be spelled out in our comprehensive review of the agreement coming out next week. The program is strictly voluntary.

Equity and Inclusion: The union proposed a series of initiatives to promote inclusion within the OHSU community and equitable treatment of our members, as well as addressing workload and diversity issues.

  • Community Employment Initiative: Within six months of contract ratification, AFSCME and OHSU will establish a community-employment committee to work on recruitment and retention of underrepresented and ethnic minorities at OHSU, with the purpose of evaluating employment and career-development needs.
  • Translation Services: Upon request, OHSU will provide on-site translation services for employee needs (e.g., during an investigatory interview or grievance meeting). In addition, OHSU will translate into five languages and make available a one-page document explaining HR information (e.g., benefits and retirement), how to access the union, AAEO services and other key information.
  • Prayer Space: OHSU will provide locations to employees who desire privacy and a safe space to practice their faith and post the locations of safe prayer spaces on O2.
  • Gender-Neutral Restrooms: If an employee has concerns about accessing gender-neutral restrooms, or if a single-occupancy gender-neutral restroom is unavailable, they can contact their manager/HR business partner for assistance in designating a multi-occupancy restroom as a safe space. Additionally $3,000 has been set aside for additional signage to identify certain multi-occupancy restrooms as safe spaces.
  • Meat-/Dairy-Free Microwave Ovens: A dedicated microwave will be added to the third-floor cafeteria to accommodate the needs of employees with religious dietary restrictions.
  • Basic Computer Training: OHSU will provide basic computer training, on paid time, for all employees who cannot demonstrate basic computer proficiency.
  • Multilingual Safety Training: OHSU will continue its efforts to make safety training/information understandable for all employees, including those not fluent in English.
  • Non-Occupational Illness & Injury Accommodation: For employees who have suffered a non-work-related injury, OHSU has agreed to train HR business partners on ways to return these employees to work with temporary work modifications.
  • Seniority Restoration Following Extended Medical Leave: Employees who have been out on extended medical leave will retain their seniority if they return to OHSU.
  • Telecommuting Task Force: AFSCME and OHSU have agreed to create a telecommuting task force to take a serious look at how to expand employees’ ability to work from home. The task force will report to OHSU’s CFO, who will serve as the executive sponsor for the task force.

This is a summary of the major points of our agreement. There are many more points, most of which provide additional benefits to our members. We will provide a complete review of all agreements next week.

Overall, this was an excellent bargaining session with historically good outcomes in many areas, despite compromises in some others.

Thank you all for your support during bargaining!

94 thoughts on “Overview of AFSCME Local 328/OHSU Tentative Agreement”

  1. It’s not perfect but I feel I can vote yes on this. I know OHSU made you work hard for this. Thank you for standing for us!

  2. So can someone clarify the UPP thing. You are saying that there is an option to have that 6% that OHSU will increase in our pay to go directly to our retirement plan? This basically means that we can continue to get 12% in the UPP without any increased taxation, same take home pay, etc.? Will you be informing us of when we can meet with these “OHSU financial counselors” about how to get this set up correctly?

    1. Yes, you’ve got it. And yes, we will inform the members when the financial counselors are available.

  3. Just had a curiosity when they said on : differentials I certainly hope that you fought to keep evening and night shift differential for all employees who work evenings and nights at their current rates ,if so I can vote on this contract.

    1. Standard night and evening shift differentials are not changing. OHSU eventually withdrew that proposal. I think (it was a very long night) that the only differential moving is the pharmacist night shift differential is reducing slightly but much less than they originally proposed.

  4. Upon plan implementation, all pay ranges will move up 5% at the bottom of the range and up 6% at the top of the range. (OHSU’s original proposal was for the top of the range to move 5%.) This means that all employees within 5% of the bottom of the range will see an immediate increase in pay in addition to the across-the board increases also occurring that year. Only people within the bottom 5% of the range will get an immediate increase, but those paid above the bottom 5% the range will have an extra 6% of wage growth available to them.

    So this means that I’m losing ground. Yet again. Because I’m above the 5% but I’m in the first quartile. So I don’t get a 5% raise. So the range shifts under me.

    I have zero hope of ever getting anywhere near the top of the scale. That’s simply a fact. Because sure as hell as I’m typing this management’s going to be as tight as they can with raises. Adding 6% to the top of the scale and saying there’s more room for growth is a joke. It isn’t going to happen.

    Whenever the pay scale shifts, everyone in that scale ought to get shifted as well so they maintain the same relative position. Because the pay scale is supposed to be a representation of the market. Otherwise you’ll have someone here for 30 years and at the bottom of the scale. Don’t think it’ll happen? I’ve experienced it and I’ll continue to experience it.

    That’s a lot of bull.

    1. I just did the math.

      Based on salaried workers getting 1.5% per year for a “step increase” (for lack of a better term right now), all else remaining static (keeping my grade’s pay scale as it exists today), it’ll take me 20 years to reach the top of my pay scale. Not counting COLAs because they shift the pay scale itself.

      I can retire in 15.


        1. why are salaried workers given less than hourly? how is that fair?! Why is there a distinction?!

          1. Ask OHSU why they stonewalled our initial proposal and held on to literally the last minute of negotiations to agree to 1.5%. We don’t think it’s right either, but short of a strike, that was the deal.

          1. Minimum guaranteed raises are something we have not had for salaried employees, and something OHSU refused until literally the last minute of bargaining. Are they huge? No. Are they a start? Yes.

          2. Frank,

            You ARE correct. I’m not denying that.

            But with the knowledge that management is not going to give any more than they have to, it’s fully disingenuous to state there’s more room for growth. Because it just won’t happen voluntarily with management.

            Let me ask, regarding the shift in the scale: is my philosophy wrong? Isn’t the scale supposed to be in the market range? So if there’s a scale correction to match the market, then that means that we are getting paid either too much (if the scale is adjusted down) or too little (if the scale is adjusted up)? And then shouldn’t we be adjusted proportionately within the scale?

            Is my philosophy incorrect? Because that’s really what’s been getting me burned — the scale shifts but I remain at the same wage, so I shift downward in the scale, even though I continue to gain experience. It happened to me in 2009, It happened to me in 2012, to the point that I hit the bottom of the scale. And now with this shift, I’m seeing it again.

            Am I wrong? And if I’m wrong, please explain why.

          3. No, salaried folks so have a much steeper hill to climb, that’s true. It’s much harder for them to get to the top. It’s not a problem we’re going to solve in one contract, unfortunately.

      1. I concur with Matt. I consistently get exceeds expectation and then get a .75 merit raise. Really? I know it’s the budget and all that but it’s not my fault so little is put aside in budgeting for merit increases in the first place. My first year at OHSU I worked very hard and got that exceeds expectation only to be told there was no money for merit increases. Way to motivate, OHSU. Well done. Good job.

        Yeah. Right.

        1. They way salaried folks get treated continues to be a problem, no one is pretending that what we did is anything but a first step, but it was an exceedingly hard step to get OHSU to take and I’m proud of the bargaining team for hanging in there. It was literally the last thing that OHSU agreed to.

          1. I’m very thankful you all were able to guarantee salaried employees a raise yearly. It’s very frustrating working my ass off for an entire year only to be told that there is no money for raises. It’s basically a slap in the face and makes me not want to bust my ass the next year.

          2. So what does OHSU have against salaried people? The very last thing to which they agreed? That’s ridiculous!

  5. Wow…..I’m impressed at the outcome considering where we started. I am so thankful for our teams dedication to get this agreement done with minimal negative impact to our members along with what I consider to be decent gains. Thank you!!!!

  6. Thank you all for your efforts and congratulations on the wins. I feel better about the COLAs, in particular. It is a relief to know that we won’t need to strike.

  7. Will you be providing an example of the pay range push with the new 13 step pay progression? Just curious where the steps will be added. Thanks so much for all your hard work.

    1. Putting some graphics together is a good idea. We will do that next week, thanks for the suggestion.The extra steps are at the top, the first half of the pay range is unchanged.

  8. So, am I reading this right that if you have UPP and are at the bottom 5% of your payscale with the cost of living increase this year you would get essentially a 14% salary increase? Is that only for existing UPP or is that for employees who switch too?

      1. So does this 6% bump you up on the payscale? Like say you’re at step 2 (I’m salaried but just curious) does that bump you to step 4 (assuming each step is 3%)? Will it be included in your taxable income/on paper salary)?

        1. We haven’t had steps in the pay scale in six years. But yes, it will move you up your pay scale just like an anniversary progression increase will do. It will be taxable if you put it on your take home pay, but not if you put it back into a retirement plan. That’s another reason why we think it is so important not to succumb to temptation and think of it as increased income but to put it back into retirement, where it came from.

      2. Please contrast this with the mega take back that the union let management get away with against the PERS employees in the last contract?

        How is it that I’m taking a 6% pay cut and UPP people are not put through the same ringer that PERS employees were?

        What truly upsets me is in the last contract, the whole PERS issue was a huge rallying cry of the union, up until the last 2 weeks when the union completely reversed course on the issue and caved like a wet bag.

        1. The rallying cry fell on deaf ears. We did a strike poll and members simply were not willing to strike over PERS. Nor were they willing to rally, go to a meeting, wear a sticker or sign a petition. I know people get tired of feeling that members get blamed when the deal isn’t what people hoped,but it really is true that all union power stems from the members’ willingness to withhold their labor. It really does. If members cannot or will not demonstrate that they are willing to take that step, the union’s power to get a deal nosedives. This year was a much better year for member activism and frustration and their willingness to show it and talk about it.

        2. I am glad that you recognize that this is a better deal than the one 85% of the members ratified last time. That does help.

  9. Can someone clarify what this language for employees not only at top of scale, but also at the longevity step?

    ” PERS employees will be able to use this wage growth to project higher average salaries toward retirement. Employees at the top step or the longevity step will have an extra 6% to grow their wages, and any time spent at top step counting toward their longevity increase before this range movement will be kept on the books and credited to them.”

    Do these folks automatically get the 6% (provided there position is one that declares them worthy of the increase) or do they have to move through progression steps?

    When will we know what job positions are getting a moved up the pay scale? Will there be a list we can access somewhere?

    1. All of them are getting moved. Every single one. If you are at longevity and the scale passes you to where you are back within the scale you will need to move to the top of the range before you are eligible for longevity again. But in that case you will be getting the step increases AND the across the board increases, where, before, you were only getting the step increases.

  10. I need to hear more about switching to UPP too. If i drop PERS there’s no going back? The 12 percent is guaranteed for this 4 year contract but subject to change next contract? Ohsu obviously wants to end PERS. I’d rather have my money in a Roth IRA. Any experts out there?

    I look forward to learning about health care security, I know I can expect another insurance increase. And I’m sick and tired of jumping thru hoops, healthy steps etc, when I have a $500 deductible plan. Seems like a trap to charge more if one goofs up.

    Sincere thanks to the bargaining team, I appreciate your effort.

    1. Health care security refers to the fact that the employer’s contribution is guaranteed not to go down over the term of the agreement. The healthy steps and so forth, are functions of the Employee benefits council which AFSCME sits on along with ONA and Faculty. As far as which retirement instrument to put the UPP 6% offset into, that is one of the reason we required the employer to provide financial counseling. One size isn’t going to fit all here. As far as the employer going back on the UPP deal, once the 6% offset is applied to base wages that is nothing to go back from, your pay has been increased, it’s up t you to decide whether to take the increase as take home pay or put it in retirement. We strongly recommend putting it in retirement. Strongly. The way to get screwed is to take is as pay, get used to living on it and then never getting around to putting it into retirement. We think that would be a bad decision. But at the end of the day it will be the member’s money to do with as he or she please.

  11. first- thank you for all your hard work. I’d rather not have to go on strike, and appreciate every step that gets us further from that option.
    I know they don’t give anything freely, but I also know they start low do that as we “meet in the middle”, it feels like a win.

    It’s probably too late for this contract, but looking forward is love to see call/call-back pay and preceptor pay adressed. As it stands, the nurses we work alongside are compensated at a much higher rate for the same work, simply because the AURN/AORN Union has negotiated this for them.

    1. We did propose Preceptor Pay but OHSU wouldn’t budge. We know that this completely unfair and that many of our members formally precept new employees and students; OHSU was unmoved by these facts.

  12. How about an infographic from each department. A scorecard of past and present performances that reflects the management’s disposition to its direct reports? Building on Matt’s points on how and why management behaves they way they do.

  13. Thanks to the bargaining team for representing us and thanks to all of those who spoke up for themselves and their co-workers over the last many weeks. I believe that OHSU heard us. Knowing how much OHSU views us as nagging expenses to their bottom line, the bargaining team has done a great job in securing us a settlement that keeps us all moving forward. I look forward to seeing the details of the tentative agreements.

  14. Thanks to night shift pharmacists for gathering support and leading the charge. Sorry you got the shaft again.

  15. I’m voting no on this contract just because there is no reason to have not dug your heels in and not give an inch. The workers have the power, not the other way around.
    Also: I don’t like how the union mentioned bad employees being protected, and not mentioning that the contract protects good employees from bad managers, when caving on the issue of employees losing their rights once they are close to being fired. Remember, we can’t even grieve verbal warnings, so if a manger wants to set us down the road to losing our rights we are 1/3 of the way there automatically.
    And moving to “ranges” from steps was a terrible, terrible idea.
    This contract is better than last years, but still borderline. I’ll be voting “no” on general principal.

    1. Verbal warnings can be grieved if the member receives a written reprimand for the same issue. So, employee gets a verbal and has no further problems the verbal comes out in a year. If the employee is progressively disciplined we can grieve the verbal and the written.

      This settlement is absolutely consistent with/better than what our members told us they were willing to strike over.

      The possible exception to this might be the salaried anniversary increases. We didn’t ask at what level of increase folks would be willing to strike but given the overall settlement the bargaining team made the call that it would be unlikely.

  16. Thank you, AFSCME folks, for fighting so hard for us, for asking for our input, and for listening to us. I sincerely appreciate all your hard work and dedication to fight against the proposals the employer presented.

  17. Is PERS being eliminated when the new contract goes into effect? Will PERS members or OHSU still be able to fund there PERS account?
    Will we be able to roll our PERS into the UPP program?

    1. PERS is not being eliminated, it will continue just as it is now but without the 3% subsidy. That is why we held out for a 3% raise the first year, so PERS people, at least would not see a pay cut with the subsidy ending. You still have the option to switch from PERS to UPP if you want to.

  18. Can we get a little more information on our health care in the next 4 years? It seem pretty vague at this point.

    1. The info is that nothing is changing, you can check the contract. The Employee Benefits Council makes the plan design, that part isn’t subject to bargaining. If you have a specific question I will try to answer it.

  19. I still don’t like the 13 year change in pay scale, as opposed to 10. Was the 10 year program unsustainable? No. Why change it, then? During the next negotiation in 4 years, OHSU will negotiate it up closer to that 17 year mark. All that has happened is that the union has participated and condoned a process of incrementalism. If you’re going to cave in on 13 years, you might as well just give them the 17. They’ll get it eventually, anyway, unless you hold your ground. Too late for that now, though.

    1. Incrementalism works both ways, look at the salaried annual raises. All bargaining involves compromise, we made really good gains on the market comparability issue. What we did means that OHSU employees will no longer slide back to average on wages. This is huge for us. We don’t get there without compromising on something important to OHSU or striking. I’m not sure we get there by striking. In order to prevail on that type of issue, you need to have some measure of reciprocity when it comes to meeting each others needs. And the business about making change now, rather than later – first we don’t agree that what you suggest is inevitable, second, what we did means more dollars in your pocket than what OHSU proposed and would have implemented if they didn’t have to bargain. More dollars is better.

  20. The current contract expires June 30th. What happens in the interim? Will the 3% increase be retroactive?

    Will there be any market based salary adjustments?

    Thank you all for your hard work.

    1. If the contract is ratified the pay increase if effective the first full pay period in July. The market-based pay adjustments are a separate process that began just a few weeks ago and will continue now that the contract has been settled (pending ratification).

  21. I’m not really seeing what non salaried employees gained. We get less of an increase per step, health insurance is still high, retirement contribution are still going down. So what did we gain? It feels that the bargaining team fought so hard just to keep OHSU from pushing us backward.

    1. You got a guaranteed annual progression increase where you had none before, (you have no idea how hard it was to get OHSU to give you anything at all) you got more vacation than you had before, you get guaranteed annual across the board raises, and you didn’t get screwed nearly as bad on the other stuff as you would have if OHSU would have had their way.

    2. Well, you did get a 1.5% guaranteed progrssion increase, which is more than the 0% OHSU wanted you to have, you got more vacation, retirement contributions are only going down for UPP if you let them go down. Put the money in a tax free retirement instrument and you could actually be better off, since OHSU’s six percent is now being paid from a higher base salary. But you are right in one respect. OHSU really did try to push people backward. Ask where you would be if there was no union to keep them from getting everything they wanted.

      I think this year we had a good level of member activism. More than we’ve had in a long long time. It paid off. Next time it could pay off better.

      1. Well said Frank. This is a good example of how being active and willing to take a stand can make such a big difference in negotiating a reasonable contract. Imagine if every member came together with 100% support. We could pretty much write our own ticket.
        It is absolutely true that a union is only as strong as it’s members.

  22. I’m a bit confused over the Pers vs UPP thing. OHSU dropped putting 6 percent into pers because they said it cost them too much, so we got a *temporary* subsidy. And now OHSU is going to drop putting 6 percent into UPP, but they’re going to offset it by giving them a permanent 6 percent pay increase.

    So, do PERS employees get a permanent 6 percent pay increase too, or are we going to make 6 percent less than the UPP members? Because it sounds to me like employees with PERS are getting screwed for no reason, if we don’t also get the same pay increase, as our subsidy is due to end.

    1. Not to agree or disagree with OHSU but their issue with PERS wasn’t the 6% it was the funding they have to pay to the state when someone retires. It’s usually higher for PERS than their 6% contribution to UPP, So their goal wasn’t so much about saving the 6% as it was about discouraging new employees to sign up for PERS.

    2. It is both confusing and unfair, but the answer is no; people in PERS will not receive the 6% increase. OHSU committed to keep those in UPP harmless by either rolling 6% into an individual retirement account or a pay increase. This means that current OHSU employees still receive the 12% overall value. OHSU will save a lot of money on new hires that choose UPP. PERS is clearly different. OHSU gets assessed by PERS who sets the employer’s PERS rate. It is my understanding that OHSU currently contributes around 9.5% for each employee in PERS; clearly less than 12%, but definitely more than 6%.

  23. I understand that it’s impossible to appease everyone in a contract negotiation. My problem is it seems like the salaried union members continue to bear the brunt of each new agreement. 3 years ago OHSU offered ITG staff across the board raises and increased vacation days to have our job classifications switched to salary. AFSCME turned down the offer but then allowed all new employees for both ITG and Pharmacy to be hired on as salaried employees, and let policies be applied which resulted in the vast majority of ITG being switched to salaried with no compensation.

    Then again on this contract salaried employees and especially the Pharmacy department is getting the short end of the stick. Yet AFSCME somehow declares that we’ve made significant gains? If the last two contracts are examples of significant gains I would hate to see what a step backwards would be. To make matters even worse is that there is a whole appendix to the contract of all the provisions and policies that don’t apply to salaried employees. So many of the protections that the hourly employees enjoy do not apply to salaried staff. Yet we continue to pay full dues for half the contract?

    So the big question for me would be is there any other options for salaried employees? For example would OHSU be willing to let salaried employees move to unclassified positions? From my point of view, an unclassified position would be a step up from where salaried staff are currently at. Not to mention that I would save over $800 a year by not having to pay union dues.

    1. why are salaried employees given the shaft? why couldn’t we get larger gains!? we didn’t want to be salaried in the first place, were given false hopes and now have none of the advantages our co-workers do and progress through pay much more slowly. what the heck?

      1. We did get salaried employees more vacation and the 1.5% is way better than the 0% you were getting from OHSU. We have to start somewhere, and this wil be a subject again in the next contract.

        1. What’s the point of getting us more vacation days. In pharmacy we can’t even get vacation when we ask for it, unless we have a lot of seniority we can forget about taking vacation during the summer months or christmas. More vacation days are not that exciting for me. I can barely get vacation approved!

    2. I’m not thrilled with what’s going on with salaried positions, but after how OHSU acted this time around (and, well, in the past), I think you’re asking for trouble having salaried workers move to unclassified. Then OHSU could act even worse, pretty much unilaterally.

      I’m not thrilled, but I’d rather stay union.

    3. Just a reminder – AFSCME turned down a very good Appendix for salaried employees in 2012 because our salaried members were very clear that giving existing members a choice to go salaried or not was their priority over that contract language. It is true that what we achieved this year in negotiations is not as beneficial as what was offered in 2012 but our union is a democracy and we did what the members wanted in 2012 . We made good strides this contract and we all agree that there needs to be more in the negotiations to come.

      1. You don’t have to remind me Diane, I remember it very well. Directly from an email you sent on June 27, 2012: “We maintain our position that any move to salaried-exempt status should be made by a democratic vote of members in each classification within a work unit”. So exactly how were any of the new employees hired after the new contract was signed have a democratic vote? Or even a better question, how did you not realize that as soon as you let new staff start to be hired on as salaried in a department, you’ve lost the fight. Yeah you can delay it for some individuals, but if you were willing to concede the fight, why in the world wouldn’t you have taken OHSU’s offer? Or at least presented us with the option at that time? Never was it mentioned that new staff would be hired on as salaried until the tentative agreement was announced. At that point it didn’t matter what ITG thought, as we a small minority of AFSMCE.

        Then to make matters worse, we found out that the Pharmacy’s hourly to salaried conversion rates for job classifications took into account the expected overtime, but this wasn’t done for ITG. When you were asked about this, this is what you replied in a email from June 28, 2012: “The Pharmacists, as a group, requested that their overtime bump be calculated in this way, but they were the only group to do so.” Seriously?

        So the end result of all this was the vast majority of ITG job classifications became salaried positions, with no increased vacation days (for the last 3 years) and no guaranteed across the board increases like the hourly workers (even though OHSU did offer this to us). Now you want us to be grateful because ‘you’ got us a 1.5% guaranteed raise a year (again less than hourly employees)?

        This is how I see it, you cost me $1,000’s of dollar over the past 3 years with your handling of salaried positions. Now you are costing me even more as instead of a 3% guaranteed raise, I get half that? And you do realize that raises compound on each other right? So if I would have gotten a larger raise last year, then my raise this year would result in more money. And then just to make sure I feel the full effects of the proverbial slap across my face, you have charged me over $2400 over the past 3 years as well.

        Believe me Diane, I wish I didn’t ‘remember’.

        1. Salaried employees get the same across-the-board increases that hourly employees get. The additional 1.5% increases for salaried folks are guaranteed annual/anniversary increases (unless you’re at the top of your pay scale). Salaried employees previously had guaranteed annual increases of 0%, so this is absolutely a gain from the previous contract.

          1. Although the blog post isn’t real clear, from the questions and comments at the top of this thread I don’t think that is correct. It sounds like salaried workers get less guaranteed raises than hourly.

          2. For the across-the-board increases, hourly and salaried employees receive the same. For the annual/anniversary increases, salaried employees will now receive 1.5%–less than most hourly employees, but more than the previous non-existent salaried anniversary increases.

        2. So exactly how were any of the new employees hired after the new contract was signed have a democratic vote?

          This is just a weird statement . . . it’s akin to a group of new 18-year-olds asking “how did we get a democratic vote when Oregon made seat belts mandatory?”

          Decisions are made by the eligible voters at the time. If they weren’t 18, they didn’t get a vote and it’s just the law under which they must live (unless they want to try to change it). If these new hires weren’t hired at the time the contract was signed . . . how were they supposed to have had a vote? That’s just the way the system works. If this is an issue with enough support, then it can be investigated as an issue to renegotiate in the future. But right now, that decision is on the books.

          1. Matt, that would actually be akin to the mandatory seat belt law only applying to people who were too young to vote at the time. So let’s say you were 17 when that law was passed, even in 4 years when you were 21 you would still have to wear a seat belt meanwhile your 22 year old friend would not because they were an ‘eligible voter’ at the time.

            That is what happened here, You had new employees being hired on as salaried, while a co-worker that started one month before them and does the same job is hourly. One of the definitions of democracy is “a state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges”. Do you truly think that we have an equality of rights and privileges?

            Also weren’t we basically told this would be an issue to renegotiate in the future 3 years ago? When exactly is this future you speak of?

    4. The technical, legal answer is that you don’t qualify to be unclassified. I think that this is a curious perspective. On one hand the expressed concern is that the union doesn’t offer “enough” protection from the employer’s attacks on your wages, benefits and working conditions; yet what would those wages, benefits and working conditions look like without the union?

  24. I’m curious if the OHSU pharmacy differential rates were compared to any other facilities of our size and the complexity of our patients? I keep hearing the word ‘market’ being thrown around, but what facilities are making up that market? Is it truly other large hospitals with a large population of complex patients like OHSU?

    1. The market surveys used by OHSU include other large and complex healthcare systems. However, we don’t know from year to year who participated in the surveys and who didn’t. I do know that several pharmacists checked out the shift differential paid in other large healthcare systems in the Portland area and ours is still higher.

  25. If a salaried employee is currently at the max of the pay range, will s/he still get the across-the-board raises? Will s/he receive the 6% UPP conversion to salary? Will s/he receive the 1.5% merit raises?


      1. So as a salaried employee, in the first quartile of the range but higher than the first 5%, and in PERS, I’m expecting a 3% drop for the PERS subsidy, a 3% raise for the first COLA, and a 1.5% salaried-person merit increase. When the contract is ratified and goes into effect.

        Is that correct? And when is the ratification vote?

        1. That’s correct. The ratification vote begins Monday, June 6 at 8 a.m. and ends on Monday, June 13 at 8 a.m.

  26. I have to pat myself on the back for switching to UPP in 2004 when OHSU started the IAP. I chose Fidelity over PERS for several reasons (the biggest being the fact that I am Tier 2 and do not have the guaranteed 8% Tier 1 employees have). But I knew PERS was in trouble back then. I mean, how can any investment company think they can sustain giving their investors a guaranteed 8% return? It made no sense to me. With UPP I can direct my investments, I have online access to my account, I receive quarterly reports (you have to wait a year to find out what your previous year’s earnings/losses are with PERS), I could borrow against my retirement if I had a catastrophic event and needed the money. None of those things are true with PERS. So I am thrilled about the 6% increase in pay I will receive, and I will definitely not see any of that money until I retire because it is going right into my retirement account. Really, nothing will change for me as far as my retirement goes. I feel bad for those in PERS, but they have the same opportunity to switch to UPP. And I feel like the 6% is something that cannot be taken back because it is locked in to my hourly wage.

  27. One question about the UPP for the union:

    The UPP currently allows us to designate our money in a wide variety of investments using brokeragelink. These investments include other mutual funds, all ETFs, and individual stocks.

    Now that OHSU will cutting the 6% contribution to the UPP, I am assuming that if we choose to invest the 6% increase that it will have to go into the University Voluntary Saving Program (UVSP). The options in the UVSP include a 403b and a 457b account. Currently employees can invest a maximum of 18k per year in each of these accounts (36k total of pretax income deductions). If we move 6k from the UPP and then place it into the UVSP, we will be losing 6k of income deduction potential. Can we petition that OHSU still contributes the 6% directly from the UPP if employees elect to keep investing this money? This would still allow maximum tax advantages.

    Also, the UPP is currently setup with the widest array of investment options. The UPP gives a set list of employer-sponsored mutual funds that one can elect their money into. However, fidelity also gives the option for brokeragelink which allows for tons of investments outside of just the employer-sponsored ones. The brokeragelink options in the UPP are currently much broader than the ones in the UVSP (403b and 457b account). Fidelity is truly an awesome retirement provider and OHSU should be applauded for working with them. If anyone is thinking about switching from PERS, the UPP has truly been amazing. Plus, I feel so much more comfortable having my retirement in my own hands rather than worry about a potential pension slash like the ones happening all around the country.

    That said, the UVSP has more limited investment options than the UPP. The UPP brokeragelink allows for investments in mutal funds, ETFs, and individual stocks. The UVSP 403b account only allows investments in mutual funds, while the 457b account is limited to just mutual funds and ETFs (in brokeragelink). I have had many conversations with Fidelity to figure all this information out.

    My question is two-fold:
    a. Can we continue to put our 6% increase in the UPP as opposed to the UVSP? This would maximize tax opportunities for some of our employees..

    b. If not, can we get OHSU to increase the investment options on UVSP to include ETFs and individual stocks. If they added basic stock options as well, that would be even better. It would be great if they could lift these barriers on the UVSP, regardless of the UPP, since it is a voluntary savings program. More options can be a great think for intelligent investors.

    1. As things stand, the would be the 403b or the 457b. One of the reasons we bargained for OHSU providing financial counseling was that we felt our members needed expert advice. As far as your second question, that wasn’t a topic of bargaining, but is certainly something we can talk to the employer about.

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