OHSU’s Pay-Equity Package Proposal

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Many of you may be wondering the status of the pay-equity package OHSU proposed on April 23. OHSU presented the package as its solution to legal requirements of Oregon’s Pay Equity Law that went into effect on January 1. A copy of OHSU’s full proposal will be attached to today’s bargaining-update email. Components of this package include:

  • Suspending annual reviews done by the Market-Based Wage Committee for the duration of the new contract.
  • Changing the pay rate associated with voluntary and involuntary demotions,  with promotions and lateral transfers and with upward, downward and lateral reclassifications.
  • Eliminating progression increases in some cases.
  • Holding back from any across-the-board increases, for the duration of the contract, the equivalent of 0.5% of the bargaining unit’s base wages “in order to address pay equity.”

If you review the information at the link above, you will note that the law is intended to protect employees who are members of a protected class. OHSU has not been using the term “protected class” in its rationale at the bargaining table or in its communications about this proposal, which Local 328 finds troubling. Our union is working with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries and with Oregon AFSCME’s legal staff to ensure that OHSU’s compliance with this law does not unnecessarily burden our members and that this proposal is not used as a means for OHSU to cut its payroll expenses. If OHSU has employees who have been underpaid due to their status as a member of a protected class, we strongly support the employer’s efforts to remedy this. We are opposed to the idea that OHSU should use our members’ pay to help it resolve possible discriminatory compensation practices.

We have not yet responded to OHSU’s proposal. We will share more information as soon as it becomes available. Please share your questions and concerns here in the meantime.

21 thoughts on “OHSU’s Pay-Equity Package Proposal”

    1. Here’s what’s cited on the pay-equity law page linked above: “[1] “Protected class” is defined as ‘a group of persons distinguished by race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, veteran status, disability or age.’ ORS 652.210(5).”

  1. How can OHSU withhold increases as a tactic to comply with the Equal Pay Law, when the law literally states in the additional provisions section, “Employers may not reduce the compensation of any employee in order to comply with the law”??

    1. Hi Linn. OHSU’s proposal wouldn’t actually reduce anyone’s current compensation. Rather, in certain cases, it would keep an employee’s compensation from increasing. (That distinction is probably of little comfort for folks who are counting on receiving progression increases as scheduled, etc.)

  2. This proposal is huge. Some of your emails should have a focus. For instance I think you should send an email that is exclusively about this proposal and its significant impact. The language shifts the burden off of OHSU to fix this while they tap into the (your) funds they saved from the employee’s suspended increases.

    We need to support the protected classes with our voices.
    OHSU needs to support the protected classes with their wallet- not ours.

  3. Do they have any evidence that anyone in the AFSCME classification is being paid less for gender or racial reasons? Since we’re paid based on the classification, I can’t see how that could even happen.

    1. Based on news reports about various doctors stepping down and leaving OHSU and the multiple lawsuits OHSU is facing, there certainly seem to be issues at the faculty level.

      We’re not sure whether any issues exist within the bargaining unit. Since merit increases and bonuses are almost unheard of for our folks, even though they’re allowed per the contract, if there are any pay inequities, it seems likely that they would have been introduced when an employee is first hired. It might be that managers have offered inequitable starting salaries to folks with the same experience, hiring into the same classification.

  4. And what is with OHSU saying that they need to withhold 0.5% so they can comply with the law and that they will return any extra that isn’t necessary to equalize the pay.

    They have all the data, haven’t they done their due-diligence and know EXACTLY how much money they need and who they need to pay it to? If they haven’t that is the first thing they should be doing, and given it is a law that they have to follow contract negotiations shouldn’t be holding them up.

    1. BOLI issued its administrative orders regarding this law back in November 2018. (The orders, found here, provide additional information that folks might find helpful.) I find it hard to believe that OHSU hasn’t done any kind of pay-equity analysis in the intervening five months before they made their proposal to AFSCME during bargaining. There may need to be some impact on some of our members’ pay in order for OHSU to comply with the law, but I’m skeptical that the impact needs to be as far-reaching and as punitive as OHSU has proposed.

      It certainly doesn’t seem at all justifiable for OHSU to withhold our members’ cost-of-living raises to remedy pay inequities which, if any exist, would have been caused by compensation decisions made by management. OHSU’s executives receive annual pay increases, in addition to their bonuses—I wonder if OHSU will be holding back 0.5% from them in order to comply with the law.

      1. Is there any indication that other groups (unclassified, etc.) will also be tapped for the 0.5% to pool to cover this for OHSU? Or is it just AFSCME?

        1. Not yet, Kelly. Presumably OHSU will reveal more information about this in the email they’ll be sending out in a couple of weeks (as was mentioned at their bargaining forum on 6/5).

  5. OHSU CAN afford do to the right thing and comply with the law without withholding pay from me! Corporate Greed. Executive Greed. Management Greed.

  6. Concerning the .5% withholding. If I came to any of my previous mangers with such an incomplete analysis of the situation they would tell me to go back and do it again. Please hold them to the same standard. If they are real about transparency please have them show what percentage of their pay is being held back for their poor hiring judgments of the past as part of a complete analysis.

  7. Does anyone know why the LundReport pulled their report on OHSU’s pay disparities article? This seems to be somewhat of a red flag for me?

    1. They posted this about it:

      “Last week, The Lund Report published a story analyzing gender pay disparities at Oregon Health & Science University.

      Two days later, new information surfaced, reflecting nuanced reasons for differences in pay among staff with the same title. The story mentioned reasons for pay differences but it did not delve as deeply as necessary to ensure that the story was fair, accurate and thorough. As editor, I made the tough decision to take the story off the website. Because of our staffing situation at the time, it was not possible to have a reporter do the extra research necessary to gather more information and do a rewrite the same day.

      We plan to take the subject up again. Gender pay differences are an important subject in our society and they have wide reader interest. As a news site focused on the health care industry and policy, it’s important for us at The Lund Report to track trends at OHSU, the state’s only academic medical center and the largest employer in Portland, with an annual operating budget of $3 billion. Besides being a key clinical, educational and scientific center in Oregon, the university also receives public money. Last year, taxpayers contributed $37 million to its budget.

      A second story on OHSU salaries is still on our website. It shows that the top leadership, from the top administrators and institute directors to deans, assistant deans, associate deans and chairs, earned $30 million in base pay in 2018.”

  8. I think I figured out part of why OHSU wants to do this. They reduce the wage increases by 0.5% per year, and then if they don’t end up needing the money they pay it back in a lump sum. I.e. it is like a one-time bonus, so they have reduced your actual wages by more than 1.5% in future years.

    So their plan is to reduce your future earnings while making you think you are being made whole. What a croc.

  9. It has always been illegal to discriminate based on a protected class. If Management has been doing this, it is a “them” problem and we should not pay for it. HR should have been paying attention.
    This is not just our step increases, they want our cost of living too. I am tired of going backward in pay because of their cuts.
    And I agree most of the problem is at the faculty level, not the classified side. Are they planning to use our pay to equalize non-representes pay inequities?

    1. Hi, Jenna. I’m not sure how OHSU plans to address pay inequities at the faculty level—they’re facing lawsuits related to this issue, so that may be why they addressed how their compliance with the pay-equity law will affect non-AFSCME employees. As far as our bargaining unit, OHSU’s intent is to use our raises to address only our own pay-equity issues. Here’s the applicable language from OHSU’s proposal: “As discussed in the Agreement, the Employer anticipates making adjustments to certain employees’ wages in order to address pay equity. The Employer commits to reserve the equivalent of one-half of one percent (0.5%) of the base wages for the AFSCME Bargaining Unit from the agreed upon across the board wage increases for the duration of this Agreement to address equity. No later than two weeks after ratification of the 2019-____ Agreement, the Employer will provide the Union with the annual budget for equity adjustments, which will be calculated as one-half of one percent (0.5%) of the annualized base wages for the AFSCME Bargaining Unit as of April 23, 2019. The Employer will also provide the Union with an accounting of annualized expenditures of this amount by July 15, 2020.”

      1. I’ve been at OHSU for over 18 years and seen the deterioration of our salaries and benefits as well as the sinking morale. I’m one of those “stuck” longevity people too. And, I have also voted in the past to strike. In one instance, I was disappointed we did not do so because management asked us to take less making it seem they were also “suffering.” Perhaps others will remember this was the time that executive management did not take their bonuses, yet reinstated them months later. It was a PR trick. We can’t accept any of their “creative” math or leave policies (e.g., PTO). I am also tired of when we do actually receive a small increase, we must always get half now and half later. I want my increase effective immediately and at the full amount. We must stay engaged, as I have over the years, because they are hoping for complacency.

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