A number of our members have raised an eyebrow at some of OHSU’s communications, and management has taken exception to some of Local 328’s communications. This is to be expected during contract negotiations — both sides will, of course, present their proposals in a way that aims to persuade readers of the proposals’ merits. That being said, OHSU made a few points in its last bargaining update that we’d like to address:
- OHSU stated that “AFSCME largely rejected OHSU’s PTO and related benefits proposals…” Of course we did! Our members have resoundingly said “No PTO” since 2017, so that will be our bargaining team’s position at the table. The “related benefits proposals” are take-backs (in a time of record prosperity for OHSU) that will hurt our members financially, so our union is going to fight them.
- OHSU stated that it was “disappointed that AFSCME did not meaningfully engage with us to help create a more competitive and market-appropriate benefits system.” Our union, of course, wants OHSU to be and remain financially successful. That being said, we are bargaining for a fair contract for our members — that’s our priority. We are disappointed that OHSU has proposed so many unnecessary take-backs, and we don’t agree that it is Local 328’s responsibility to ensure that OHSU is “more competitive.” (In addition, it seems that OHSU focuses on making itself competitive for faculty recruitment, rather than in ways that would help our members.)
- OHSU stated that AFSCME “rejected a pilot program to test out” a new system to increase paid and release hours for union executives. We believe this statement goes a bit beyond spin. OHSU had proposed a memorandum of understanding that outlined a concept in which OHSU would grant 40 hours of paid release time per week to be used by Local 328’s president, vice president and chief steward, in percentages determined by our union. We countered with a slightly tweaked version of the MOU, which included formatting changes as well as non-substantive changes such as referring to time spent “on matters undertaken at the behest of the Employer (e.g., appointment to and work done for Employer committees)” instead of “on matters directed by the committees of the Employer, or otherwise at the behest of the Employer.” We also proposed eliminating the language stating that MOU would expire two years after the effective date of the new contract. Local 328 did not “reject” OHSU’s proposal.
- OHSU stated that our counterproposal “maintained the inequitable system of some stewards receiving overtime for union work, and others not.” This references OHSU’s proposal that the time spent by our stewards — time spent on work that benefits OHSU as well as our union — would no longer count toward overtime. None of our stewards have complained about the current system or stated that they’re concerned that the way they receive overtime is “inequitable,” so why has OHSU really proposed this? Our union has a number of concerns about this proposal — it would create financial hardship for many of our current stewards, would potentially dampen our union’s ability to recruit new stewards and could chill union activity. We remain strongly opposed to this proposal. (Note: Stewards are never paid overtime for their steward work; this proposal would affect their ability to earn overtime for OHSU work.)