Bargaining Teams Begin Contract Talks 3/5

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Proposals & Topics

During the bargaining process, what we call a proposal is specific contract language that either side puts on the table for consideration. An interest-based bargaining topic is a general statement of a problem area that either team puts forward to be used a subject for discussion using our agreed-upon problem-solving process. Another way of thinking about this is that proposals represent traditional bargaining and topics represent problem statements to be resolved using IBB.

Prior to beginning IBB, management introduced some proposals for the union’s consideration. Several of these proposals were responses to proposals previously made and submitted to or by the union. The union team considers management’s proposals in our caucuses and responds to management at a future session. The first few bargaining sessions are always loaded with initial proposals and IBB topics.

We will report on proposals and topics as they get placed on the agenda. Economic proposals will not be exchanged until mid-April — earlier than in previous sessions. We don’t want a repeat of OHSU’s eleventh-hour introduction of shocking economic take-backs such as we experienced with management’s PERS proposal in 2012.

Today’s Progress

The two teams had decided to select a real-world problem to work on in an earlier joint training, but one that would lend itself to resolution — this was to give the teams an actual concern to work on but that was not likely to be overly contentious. The article we selected to work on was Article 5.3 – Definition of Consensus, which addresses the process used for work groups to develop consensus agreements  (such as around vacation scheduling — see Article 12.4.1).

This short article has actually resulted in problems in several work units, in that it does not clearly define who should participate in the consensus process, how voting should occur, how consensus agreements are reported to the union and OHSU or how to deal with consensus agreements that step outside the intent of the definition.

Since this was the first day that the two teams have worked an actual IBB problem, the process understandably took most of the day — the process will get faster in the future, as we work together. The teams did reach a tentative agreement on some good changes to the consensus process:

  • We will identify in the consensus definition the specific sections of the contract that may be amended by the consensus process.
  • The consensus process may be initiated by either management or a group of 10 percent of the employees in a work group/unit.
  • The process may be used within a whole work unit or for a smaller group within the work unit if that is more applicable.
  • All employees affected by a proposed consensus agreement are allowed to vote, all workers must get a reasonable opportunity to vote and 80 percent of the employees voting will determine consensus.
  • All consensus agreements must be made readily available to affected employees and all employees new to a work unit must be given copies of any consensus agreements in effect for that unit.
  • A consensus agreement may be rescinded if representatives from OHSU Human Resources and AFSCME Local 328 staff representatives agree that it violates another section of the contract or adversely impacts employees not party to the agreement.
  • A bargaining subcommittee will be formed to develop a set of guidelines for departments to use to assist them in developing agreements and reaching consensus.

The teams finished up the day in separate caucuses reviewing each other’s IBB topics, reviewing responses to proposals and discussing future agenda items. The management responses to union proposals considered by the Local 328 team included:

  • Union-member leave — (a) re: presenting at New Employee Orientation and (b) changes that would allow for intermittent union leave but increase management’s discretion in granting leave.
  • Performance evaluations — language that establishes the expectation that employees receive yearly evaluations, but that does not include the union’s proposal that employees be allowed to challenge certain critical information.
  • Sick leave — Local 328 had proposed language requiring managers to state exactly what their concerns are when requesting fitness-for-duty medical exams. OHSU responded with language that responded to some of our concerns but did not address our major concerns.
  • Evaluation periods — Management responded to our proposal that probationary employees be laid off before employees on internal-job-change trial service, least senior first.
  • Removal from trial service — OHSU proposed language restricting the right of employees to return to their previous job if removed from trial service.
  • Education and training — Management responded to the union’s proposal re: increasing members’ rights to use the Career and Workplace Enhancement Center
  • Job bidding — The employer proposed changes in job-bid language that would increase the rights of probationary and trial-service employees to job bid, but would somewhat restrict the rights of trial-service employees to apply for available internal positions.

Local 328 will be keeping you informed about our progress as these and other issues come to the table. We welcome feedback in the comments on our blog and in our Facebook group.

2 thoughts on “Bargaining Teams Begin Contract Talks 3/5”

  1. I’ve been working with our members in Pharmacy over the last few months regarding the department’s approach to consensus agreements. I’m really happy with the progress that we made on this subject in bargaining and want to thank the Pharmacy Bargaining Contacts, Navigators and members who were directly involved in identifying this problem and who worked together to identify potential solutions.

  2. We’ve struggled with the work group definition in the pharmacy department in relation to consensus agreement voting. It’s great to see that input from our department was used to make some positive changes in the language and the system in general (with more work ahead). Thanks for choosing to deal with this issue right up front in the bargaining. Hopefully we’ll be able to convert what has been a very frustrating process for us into something more clear and easy for employees to know what our rights are surrounding consensus agreements. Keep up the good progress.

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