3/26 Bargaining Session — Work/Life Balance

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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.

Scheduling Issues

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.

27 thoughts on “3/26 Bargaining Session — Work/Life Balance”

  1. “Reducing the required 28-day notice for schedule changes” – this is NO DIFFERENT than saying that management can announce your schedule even less than 28 days beforehand. TRUTH.

    (In our dept, based on the current contract, the schedule comes out exactly 28 days in advance.)

    Not acceptable.

    1. Thanks for speaking out. OHSU’s leaders need to hear what our members think about some of their proposals. If enough speak out we can fight this stuff off together.

      1. In my department our schedule only comes out 1-3 days before it’s supposed to be posted. For example April was only posted on Friday 3/27/2015. Exactly 28 days would be nice. I guess since April 30th, is 30 days away they are technically within the rules, but we never see it a month before like it’s supposed to be.

        1. The schedule is to be posted 28 days in advance of when it begins. Your work unit may want to consider contacting a steward to get some assistance in resolving this. Hit the Ezone link on the website and it will take you to our Ezone.

  2. I am on the Local 328 Bargaining Team and can’t reiterate enough how much we rely on members for feedback. Leave a comment about how these issues impact you.

    On your next break or lunch, talk with your coworkers about these issues and encourage them to visit the blog and leave a comment, too.

  3. Please please please do not let management publish schedules with less than 28 days notice! It’s hard enough not knowing if you can schedule things like buying concert or plan tickets in advance! Shortening that time would only harm work life balance as we would not be able to make commitments in a timely manner

    1. That’s so true! In some departments it’s a struggle to make sure that Mgt complies with the current 28-day requirement.

  4. Please do not agree to anything less than 28 days notice for schedule changes or posting future schedules. In the pharmacy department, there has been times where mid-month management has decided to cut shifts. Without 7.2 they would just change our schedule to meet their needs and move around our shifts without our permission. Once the schedule is published we make plans and book and buy tickets.
    It IS hard enough making family home life commitments with only 28 days in advance. Please do not let them shorten this.

    1. In pharmacy Steward Leah Witte assisted a member in filing a grievance and winning on this very issue. Management discovered that they had made an error and reversed it, causing significant disruption for the grievant. The resolution was agreeing to comply with the contract – once the schedule is posted is can’t be changed.

  5. The cell phone situation definitely needs to be addressed. I’ve had a manager make me leave his location while on my break because I was using my phone. I payed for a meal and was told I was breaking the rules so I had to find sonewhere else to go “play on my phone.”

    I was once addressed in the hallway waiting for an elevator when I was just checking the time. Really? I Also don’t really feel like trying to wear a jacket to cover up like I have something to hide. And It’s almost summer.

    The break room? Haha. It sure was nice of them to hang a tv that isn’t connected to any sort of cable. At least they replaced the broken microwave after a month. But now they have a nice conference room so I shouldn’t be complaining.

    Thanks for addressing these issues team! I know bargaining isn’t easy.

    1. I find it bizarre that management controls cell phone usage for food service employees. I can’t imagine their justification for that. It’s indefensible.

  6. Members often times depend on these schedules to determine daycare needs, spouses work schedules, scheduling of doctors appointments, student teacher conferences and any number of other things that require time commitments.

  7. If find the 28 day schedule pretty funny. My department gives me my schedule a week before the month starts!! My management has no clue about the contract…

      1. Transportation has had issues with this for over a year. I know it’s up to us to bring it to your attention, but it feels fruitless.

        1. Barney – we’ve won grievances on this issue in other departments. Think about filing a departmental grievance on this with your coworkers.

  8. The pharmacy department has already violated 7.2 on multiple occasions. Changing somebody’s shift in the middle of the month, and on more than one occasion, not letting that person know their schedule has changed. Imagine the horror of receiving a call from the manager on call, letting you know you are late for a shift you didn’t know you had! Don’t let them alter any of these important scheduling issues please!

    I also think that it is really messed up that the nutrition staff can’t have a time where they can check and respond to messages on their phone. I think the management personnel that run the food and nutrition department are the biggest tyrants on the campus! I don’t know why they feel the need to run their department with an iron fist.

  9. Both of these issues are important and I’m glad they are being addressed. Thank you for keeping us posted! It is appalling to me that managers can control the behavior of employees while on a BREAK. I do not work in food and nutrition but still feel strongly about this. Checking in on children, families, email or playing a game – whatever it is – it is on personal time!

  10. I think of break time as a time to get away from work. Taking a break is often associated with home life. Checking on my kids, sending quick texts to the husband, making arrangements for after work, etc. The parts of life that make it balanced. Everyone needs balance.

    Thus, both the cell phone issue and the 28 day notice reduction impinges on that issue of balance. A balanced employee is a better employee.

  11. I never realized Food&Nutrition doesn’t have a break room. And now that I know, it’s almost unbelievable!
    Are these employees just supposed to go and sit or stand somewhere and do nothing on their breaks?
    I’m guessing their managers forbid the use of mobile phones because it might appear to customers that these employees are just sitting around wasting time. A decent break room would solve the problem…place to get away from their jobs for a break, and be able to use their phones without any concern about how it appears.
    As far as reducing the 28 day scheduling requirement goes…I am COMPLETELY AGAINST IT! I am a Relief Employee. If management were able to change my schedule with shorter notice, it would wreak havoc on my family and any attempt to plan vacations, work around my children’s’ activities, plan time with my wife, buy airline tickets or concert tickets or be available for visiting relatives…there are countless reasons for this being a bad idea.

    1. The Food and Nutrition Department converted an existing breakroom into a management conference room. When we learned that this had happened we inquired about the “replacement”. We were told that they had plans for another breakroom. An employer that cared about their employees would have created the new breakroom at the same time for a smooth transition. Not so. After as YEAR of agitation, the department moved some stuff around in a storage room, put a table and a few chairs there and called it the new breakroom. When asked why there wasn’t an actual remodel to create an actual breakroom the answer was that it would cost too much money. It didn’t cost too much money to create a conference room for the managers in the department, but it was too expensive for the dozens/hundreds of employees that work in the Hospital Cafeteria. The storage area has significant problems with reception, so electronic devices don’t work well and because it is a storage area it also has cameras watching employees while on their break.

      1. We have no cell reception in our break room at either our PPV or CHH location. I frequently need to be out in a public hall or cafeteria during my rest or meal periods to make a phone call. If the call will be lengthy, I will be eating while sitting on hold.

        I agree that this is not just an issue for one department. If any of us are treated unfairly, we need to band together and tell them to stop. Isn’t that a method used by nations to pressure other nations to treat their people better? Should we use another of their tools, which is boycotting?

        We should not let them treat us like servants that need to use the back entrance so we won’t sully the eyes of “better” people. An employee on break should be a regular, accepted sight, not someone to hide from the public. Why cover up a uniform? From the way you present the issue, I assume this isn’t just a problem with seating capacity in the cafeterias.

        If a department has an employee or two that are using their phones during work time, then that calls for progressive discipline of the individual(s) doing it, not a blanket rule.

  12. What the management team needs to understand that while it would be more convenient for them operationally if they didn’t have to provide 28 days notice before forcibly changing a staff members schedule the impact on that staff members personal life may be significant. Childcare being just one thing impacted. Finding alternative quality childcare can take well over 28 days if there is a waiting list. 28 days notice should be the least provided to a staff member before his/her schedule is forcibly changed.

  13. I totally agree with all of the others who are AGAINST changing the 28 day language or the language in 9.3-Change in reporting time. I don’t think it is too much to ask to give employees 28 days notice of their schedules and not allow them to change it without proper notice.
    The issue with the blanket no cell phone use for F&N employees is huge! That is ridiculously unfair! either provide them a location with reception for them to use their phones or allow them to use them like everyone else can. Like Elisa said: you don’t make a blanket policy for a few offenders. Address the issue with the offenders, don’t punish everyone else!

  14. Thank you to all those that have commented and for everyone involved in these crucial discussions. My question-where is this leading in terms of a supportive, respectful place for all of us to work. My experience has been that parking continually increases (our unit moved off the hill and our only option is 3 diamond parking at $158/month which is cost prohibitive to many), rounding shift start/end times to the determent of employees, short shift notifications, outsourcing hospital billing etc. are moving ALL of us collectively away from where we want to be. In our department, we have had many individuals leave without replacements being hired, many more requirements on our jobs individually which has resulted in the team feeling disconnected. I hope that as we collectively look to the new CHH2, the new Knight Cancer building etc that the hardworking individuals behind these things are respected.

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