Two issues dominated the discussion today, which ended up demonstrating distinct differences between the approaches of the union and management teams.
Food and Nutrition Mobile-Device Usage
Although the first issue only directly affects a few food-service workers, it highlights an issue of basic fairness and equal treatment for members, in the union’s opinion — or, from management’s perspective, of workplace policy being micromanaged by the union contract.
The story in this: Employees in the retail section of the Department of Food and Nutrition were prohibited from using cell phones or other electronic devices in any of OHSU’s cafeterias while on their breaks or lunch. No other employees face this prohibition. Further, most other employees have access to clean, private break rooms with good cell-phone reception, something the food-service employees lack. These employees filed a group grievance and, through a labor/management committee, reached an interim solution that allowed retail employees use their phones as long as they wore a jacket or some kind of outerwear to cover their uniform shirts. This really wasn’t satisfactory as a long-term solution because breaks are not generally long enough for members to go get their jackets, return to the cafeteria for their break and then return their jackets and get back to work on time.
The union team raised this issue at the bargaining table today and it developed into a discussion that quickly took on institution-wide implications. The union sees this as an issue of basic fairness — food-service retail employees who aren’t allowed to use their phones can sit side-by-side at a table with other uniformed employees who are allowed to use their phones. The OHSU team feels strongly that department policies governing employee behavior should not be part of the contract, and they did not want to create language that would dictate policy to departments not involved in this problem.
The agreement arrived at was to reconstitute a Food and Nutrition labor/management committee, consisting of three union members chosen by the union (including one paid union staff representative), and up to three management members to be chosen by OHSU. The committee will be co-facilitated by one union staff representative and one Human Resources representative. The union committee members will participate on paid time. If this committee doesn’t reach consensus on a solution to this issue by May 31, the issue will come back to the bargaining table.
The second main topic of discussion at today’s session had to do with three scheduling issues raised by management. The articles in question are:
- 7.2 — Scheduling of Work: the required 28-day notice for schedule changes
- 9.3 — Change in Reporting Time: the contract rules regarding changes in start time
- 19.10 — Shift Curtailment and Cancelation (cutting a shift short or canceling an entire shift): the method by which staff curtailments and shift cancelations happen
We worked through the stories and interests behind these three issues and made progress in formulating potential solutions. Unfortunately, we were unable to reach an agreement before our day concluded, so we’ll pick up the discussion as our first order of business next Thursday.
In keeping with our ground rules, we do not disclose specific statements made by the parties in our bargaining updates. However, it is important that we hear your thoughts about the importance of these three articles and how changes to them would affect you and your work/life balance — please be sure to leave your comments below.