Bargaining-Session Update: May 14 Counterproposals and Tentative Agreements

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In addition to the counterproposals to Local 328’s economic proposals, management’s team also presented the following counterproposals:

    • PTO Package: OHSU made some movement here, primarily in the area of voluntary cash-out. Last week we proposed a cash-out of up to 80 hours; OHSU today countered with a cash-out of 40 hours or 80 hours.
    • 15.2.1 Insurance Contributions: OHSU continues to propose cutting its insurance contribution to 95% for employee-only coverage and to 83% for other coverages, but now only if the employee makes more than $19.23/hour.
    • 15.2.3 Maximum Annual Contribution Increase: OHSU has not moved in this area. Currently, premium increases of up to 10% are covered by the employer. OHSU continues to propose reducing that to 5%, meaning that employees would have to pay for any premium increases over that amount.
    • Spousal Surcharge: OHSU continues to propose a $100/month spousal surcharge for employees whose spouses use OHSU health insurance as their primary coverage instead of the insurance offered by their own employers, but now only if the employee makes more than $19.23/hour.
    • Appendix C — Employee Benefits Council: OHSU has not moved in this area. Currently, the EBC must come to a collaborative agreement before OHSU can make significant changes to our benefits plan design, in a model that’s worked well for decades. OHSU is proposing removing the EBC’s decision-making power so that benefits changes will be decided by a single executive. This would mean that OHSU could ultimately disregard its employees’ voices when making changes to benefits.
    • 5.28 Relief Employees: OHSU continues to propose that relief employees be available to work between two and six hours (a change from the current four hours) on either a pre- or post-schedule basis, but stated a willingness to work together on the matter.
    • 7.4 Availability of Additional Work: OHSU continues to propose language that would allow managers to not go by seniority when assigning work to cover a short-notice call-out (e.g., someone calling in sick).
    • 18.1.1 Posting and Awarding of Position: OHSU continues to reject our proposal to give salaried employees the option to convert to hourly when bidding on a position.
    • 23.1.2 Suspension of Seniority Rights: OHSU continues to reject our proposal to strike this language. (This language has only been used a couple of times over the course of a four-year contract, so Local 328 feels there isn’t a need for it to remain in the contract.)

In the afternoon, Local 328 re-presented our previous counterproposals, rejecting OHSU’s insurance take-backs.

A word about the $19.23/hour threshold that OHSU has proposed for a number of its proposals: Our union is glad that OHSU has recognized that its insurance take-backs would be especially hard on the lowest-paid members of our bargaining unit. However, we continue to believe that these take-backs are unnecessary for any of our members given OHSU’s record financial success. Our union represents all employees in the bargaining unit and we don’t support a two-tier system that would divide our members. We are stronger together. This article explains how employers often propose different benefits and compensation for different sets of employees within a bargaining unit, in an effort to weaken the union by driving a wedge between workers.  

Local 328 and OHSU reached tentative agreements today on the following sections of the contract:

    • 15.1.1/15.1.4/15.1.5/15.3/15.3.1 Eligibility & Default Coverage — These sections relate to the default coverage for benefits for new employees. New employees with an FTE of 0.75 or greater will be automatically enrolled in employee-only OHSU PPO, Delta dental, core vision and core life insurance and will have 31 days from hire to update their benefits as they choose. Employees with an FTE of less than 0.75 will not be automatically enrolled, but if they don’t make a benefits selection within 31 days, then they will be enrolled into the above default benefits.
    • 15.2 Insurance Contributions — This section has been updated with definitions of full-time and part-time employees.
    • 15.2.4 Employee Premium Deduction — This section has been updated with a change to when insurance premiums are deducted from employees’ pay. This is change essentially reflects current practice.
    • 18.1.2 Placement/18.2.4 Provisions Applicable to Internal Applicants Only — Our contract will retain the language stating that employees will be placed into new internal positions no later than four weeks after being selected for a position. Employees will have the option to negotiate a different timeline upon request.

14 thoughts on “Bargaining-Session Update: May 14 Counterproposals and Tentative Agreements”

  1. We need to push back that Exec contracts must include clauses that void any bonuses when they impose “Cost Containment” or Layoffs, or any other broad measure to cut costs across the institution. It is, once again, profoundly distressing that – after the 2008 Tort Cap fiasco – we still have Exec contracts with financial-based bonuses paid out due to cost cutting measures, where savings are based solely by imposing heavy restrictions on all spending, justified by “unforeseen deficits”, supposedly on the Hospital side – which, apparently, was simply not true – ??

  2. Agree with DK. Agree that OHSU is trying to divide and conquer the members. I make more than $19/hr and can’t afford the insurance rate increases. Are executives making any sacrifices? At all? Ever? We need to stand together and show we won’t be swayed by smarmy tactics.

  3. I ditto that Jackie! I, also make more than $19/hr, but will not be able to afford the insurance increases especially since OHSU feels that we don’t deserve wage increases either!

  4. Anyone besides me notice that every single OHSU proposal is a take back. Every. Single. One. None of them benefit the workers at OHSU. None. I think if we do go on strike we should put everything on the table going back at least two contracts and get some of those things back. Especially the rip off OHSU pulled on all their PERS employee’s. I would also like to see the employee bargaining with the company thing go away, just how exactly are we to bargain when we have both hands tied behind out back. All bargaining should be done by a Union agent. We also need a couple of lawyers on our bargaining team just like OHSU has. This set up has never been fair and has always been tilted in OHSU’s favor.

    1. Hi, Jeff. I’ll address your comment point by point.

      1–It’s quite telling that all of OHSU’s proposals have been take-backs. In addition, Local 328 has made a couple of beneficial proposals—such as the staffing task force and the community advisory board—that would involve no financial cost to OHSU and they’ve either outright rejected them or just ignored them.

      2–We’ve passed the point in negotiations where new proposals can be introduced—we would be unable to “put everything on the table going back at least two contracts” even in the event of a strike.

      3–I’m not clear what you mean by wanting “the employee bargaining with the company going away.” Do you mean you wish that our union’s bargaining team didn’t have any actual members on it? I think that Local 328 members, people who will actually be affected by the results of our negotiations, are the best people to have on the team.

      4–Local 328 has staff representatives, not union agents. And we always have staff reps on our bargaining team—currently, and in all the negotiations in the past.

      5–We occasionally hear the suggestion to have lawyers negotiate for us and I never understand why people think having a lawyer at the table for the union would change anything. Even the most golden-tongued attorney isn’t going to be able to get an employer to say “Why, you’re right—let’s give these hard-working employees 5% across-the-board raises! Free health insurance for all!” That’s just not how it works. If we had lawyers negotiating for us, they’d do the same thing our employee-based bargaining teams have done: gauge the willingness of the members to fight for a better contract and act accordingly. If the members aren’t willing to take direct action to tell the employer that their proposals are unacceptable, a lawyer would negotiate the best settlement possible—just like our bargaining teams have had to do in the past. If the members are willing, though, that’s a different story. In the end, if an employer’s lousy proposals are still on the table unchanged, the ONLY thing that will move them to make a better offer is if they know a union’s members are fed up enough that they’re willing to go on strike. Our ability to get a fair contract lies in our members’ hands, not in a lawyer’s.

      There were a number of PERS members who were part of the 2012 bargaining team, including myself. We obviously didn’t want to negotiate those cuts to our own benefits. But the membership just didn’t care enough about the issue to fight it. So we made the best of it and negotiated contract language ensuring the 6% pick-up would go away in stages, rather than all at once as OHSU had proposed.

      OHSU keeps proposing shit because they think our members will just accept it. I think more highly of our members that that, and I think this year is different. All of us on the bargaining team do. Our members deserve a fair contract with no take-backs, and we can get it. We have the power to get it. A strike involves sacrifice, and the thought of going out on strike is scary for a lot of our members. You know who else it’s scary for? OHSU.

      1. “the employee bargaining with the company going away.” I spent 11.5 years in the Carpenters and Jointers of America, every time they negotiated they had an Agent who’s only job was to negotiate contracts. Regular employee’s did not do this for the Union. It was Union officers and the Agent who negotiated the contract for the Union members. We also held a strike vote before any negotiations took place, the results were always given to the Union members. The strike vote was always approved with over 95+% of our vote. Our insurance was administered by the Union with the employer paying around $1.75 per hour worked per employee. That insurance was the best I’ve ever had and makes OHSU’s insurance look very sad indeed.

        1. Thanks for the additional info, Jeff. Our current bargaining team does also have union officers serving on it—four of the five members of our executive committee are on the current team. (Three were in 2015 and two in 2012.) All of the team members went through extensive training in the months leading up to bargaining. The other members of the team are the best I’ve worked with over three rounds of negotiations—they’re smart, passionate, and hard working.

          I hope you’re able to join us for the 5/22 town hall and the 6/13 informational picket.

  5. Just like the PERS takebacks – OHSU is trying to divide and conquer. We must stand together and fight this. I’ll be out there with my picket sign on June 13th for every AFSCME employee.

  6. I oppose the spousal surcharge regardless of the income level of the employees. I oppose the cost shift for employee benefits, beyond the 5% increase.

  7. The insurance proposals are both frustrating and disappointing. Over the years we have seen our choices diminished. Now these cost increases are unacceptable. 95% of what? Meaning, will OHSU and MODA set the premium increase together…achieving the best numbers for them, at our expense?
    And plain and simple, we don’t want this PTO plan. The fact that OHSU says this plan is favorable is just insulting.
    I don’t want to not be available for my patients when they need me, ever….but we can’t just sit by and watch this happen.

  8. This increase will only add to the increasing burden middle class workers feel. Increase insurance , spousal surcharge, pers cuts, sub par pay raises that don’t equal cost of living. All while unclassified make more and more bonus time for a no bonus system if they make fiscal cuts to any afscme employee.

  9. Apparently being asked to continually do more with less isn’t being tolerated like it once was, and the working class is fighting back. I just read an article about how the number of striking workers in 2018 was the largest in decades. The same article also noted how SUCCESSFUL those strikes were for the EMPLOYEES and not the employers.

  10. It’s disappointing that when an OHSU representative is given the opportunity to answer the union members tough questions in today’s town hall meeting they back out stating “I no longer feel this forum will be constructive and therefore have decided that OHSU will not be participating.” This seems to be another attempt to stonewall until OHSU gets what they want.
    Hope to see a packed town hall meeting today!! UNION STRONG!!

  11. Awesome Town Hall meeting yesterday with standing room only!! Let’s increase this participation exponentially for the Bargaining Rally on June 13.
    Also, OHSU’s bargaining update email yesterday has invited “all AFSCME-represented employees” to some upcoming forums (June 5 7:30-8:30am & June 19 2-3pm). This is an opportunity for our members to understand OHSUs side of their disrespectfully and deplorable proposals.
    Please read their email for the locations of these meetings and see if you can detect the less than subtle threat about this blog. Brothers and Sisters stay Union Strong!! This just shows they are paying attention and very concerned, and we should be as well. Union means “uniting or joining together” and from these proposals OHSU is united against our membership and a fair wage/benefits package for it’s employees.

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