At the conclusion of last week’s bargaining session, the two teams decided to set the issues for today’s bargaining session. We decided to work on issues where we believed both teams shared concerns and interests so that the IBB process would go more smoothly while the teams are still in a learning curve.
Today we discussed the use of relief employees and flex-staff employees and began to outline our concerns about a number of issues regarding inclusion/accommodation for language, religious and other reasons.
We were able to reach agreement on the non-economic relief-employee issues. We ended the day with an introductory discussion of what we are calling an “accommodations package,” which would address a number of community/inclusion/accommodation issues. We didn’t have an opportunity to problem-solve the flex-staff issues so deferred that to next week’s session.
We began the day by talking about relief- and flex-employee issues and interests. The issues around 5.27 – Relief Employees that were identified by the teams centered on several concerns:
- Relief employees are not being used in accordance with the contract language – in many cases, OHSU is hiring relief employees when they should be hiring regular FTE employees.
- Relief employees are not able to use accrued sick leave when they need to access short-term disability.
- Relief employees are only required to work and be available for two days per month, which limits their ability to actually be used to relieve regular FTE employees.
- Relief employees have no consistent way to access vacation.
- There are inconsistent practices in the organization with regard to relief employees’ rights and obligations related to overtime, sick leave and vacation.
- The Affordable Care Act will have effects on relief employees when they work more than 30 hours per week.
The issues raised around 5.11 – Flex Staff Employees included:
- Some departments are using full-time flex-staff hires as entry-level positions.
- Flex staff are often being used when relief or regular FTE employees would be more appropriate.
- Flex-staff employees are frequently hired at the lowest step of the pay scale.
- The Affordable Care Act will have effects on flex employees when they work more than 30 hours per week.
The teams agreed that many of the relief and flex issues overlap and that, although they would be considered separately, we might have to go back and review agreements made in one area based on agreements made in the other, if they conflicted or added additional elements which might apply to both.
The teams reached the following tentative agreement on the use of relief employees:
- Relief employees who would otherwise be eligible for short-term disability insurance will be allowed to exhaust their sick leave so that they may receive short-term disability benefits. The parties will develop a process to assure that this happens in a consistent manner.
- Relief employees will be included in holiday bids and assignments.
- Relief employees must declare their availability to work on at least four dates per pay period, and may be required to work any shift on the dates they declared. The employer doesn’t need to schedule/use them on all of their declared days.
- Relief employees will participate in the vacation-scheduling process.
- The definition of relief employees will be updated to include that they may be hired for “short-term projects and short- term supplementation of existing staffing.”
Still unresolved is a union proposal that relief employees should receive holiday pay – this is an economic issue and will be considered along with other economic proposals.
We began a discussion of our accommodations package, to be worked on in more depth at a future bargaining session:
- Providing job modifications for employees having a temporary restriction caused by non-job-related illness or injury.
- Providing prayer space for employees.
- Accommodating the needs of employees with religious dietary restrictions (e.g., kosher, halal) who currently share food-preparation space with employees who do not practice similar restrictions.
- Making gender-neutral restrooms available.
- Remedying a whole range of problems associated with language barriers and literacy concerns that encompass understanding information such as safety instructions, OHSU benefits information, the union contract and OHSU/work-unit policies and procedures.
- Providing on-site translation services for employee needs (e.g., during an investigatory interview)
As always, Local 328 will be keeping you informed about our progress as these and other issues come to the table.