4/9 Bargaining Session — Email/Computer Access

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Lack of Computer Access/Duty Time to Read Work Emails

The first order of business on Thursday was to discuss a two-part issue. Local 328 has gotten a lot of feedback from members who are unable to check their work emails because they don’t have reasonable access to a computer, while others have a computer available but don’t have time during their work day to read their work emails.

The two bargaining teams had very different perceptions about the extent of the problem, but after a great deal of discussion we managed to reach a tentative agreement. The terms of agreement are as follows:

  • OHSU commits to informing employees, supervisors and managers that time must be made available for employees to read work emails and other OHSU communications and complete required online trainings. This time should not be during breaks, lunches or other off-duty time.
  • Employees who feel they are being denied access to a computer or the time to read emails are encouraged to raise the issue with their supervisor. Any union concerns about the adequacy of computer time and access will be brought to the attention of the appropriate Human Resources business partner; if it is not resolved, the issue will be taken to the HR-AFSCME monthly meeting for resolution.
  • These terms will appear in the contract as a letter of agreement.

Tentative Agreement on Proposals

We reached tentative agreement on several proposals, including:

  • 9.1.3 — Calculation of Overtime: Time worked outside of regularly scheduled hours, for which time-and-a-half is paid, doesn’t count as time worked in the calculation of overtime. (This does not change how overtime is currently calculated.)
  • 19.2 — Layoff – Temporary and Contract Employees: Contract workers must be laid off before regular employees who are in the same classification and the same work unit, and performing the same work. Contract workers who are in the last six months of their contract can be retained if they cannot be readily replaced by existing regular employees.
  • 19.10.5 — Lack of Work on Holidays: The word “department” will be changed to “work unit” in this section. This recognizes that not every work unit within a department has the same demand during holidays.
  • 20.4 — Evaluation Periods – Extensions: A probationary period can be extended by mutual agreement between the employee and his/her supervisor.

Employee Performance and Contract Rights

Management brought an issue to the table that generated a lot of conversation and controversy. OHSU has an interest in restricting seniority-based rights for employees who are judged to be poor performers and/or employees who have received discipline. These rights could include things like vacation bidding, job bidding, salary progression increases, overtime assignment and layoff.

While the union shares concerns about effectively managing performance issues, there was a lot of disagreement about the best way to approach the problem. Based on the number of stories and interests expressed by each team, it became clear we would not have time to come to agreement in this week’s session, so the issue was put on hold until next Thursday.

Employee Resource Groups

We used the remaining time to get started working on the issue of employees’ ability to attend Employee Resource Group meetings. Many of our members have told us that they would like to participate in an ERG but can’t get the time away from work to attend the meetings. We will also pick this issue back up when we meet next week.


While we didn’t reach agreement through interest-based bargaining on many topics today, we worked through some thorny issues that required much discussion and critical thought. The union’s team did a great job representing the interests that our members have brought to us. Overall, the IBB process is progressing well.

April 16 is the deadline for presenting economic proposals, so the union will have several major new proposals to report on. Until then, keep an eye on the website and like the new AFSCME Local 328 Facebook page to get all the latest news.

6 thoughts on “4/9 Bargaining Session — Email/Computer Access”

  1. I disagree with management wanting to restrict basic rights as an employee or are judged to be poor performers or who have been disciplined. What constitutes “poor performers” in our department we have a lot of employees who are aging and although they tend to be somewhat slower, they can still execute their job. This will only allow for managers to discriminate against older employees. What else constitutes “poor” performance? There would have to be concrete data collection over a long period of time to prove that a person is indeed a poor performer, and management would also should have to prove that the department did indeed try to help that individual IMPROVE their performance and is not just trying to get rid of them. As far as discipline, again you would need concrete data and written documents, such as many PSNs filed against a person. Something like that is concrete. We can not allow for managers to restrict seniority based right to an employee like salary progression or vacation. This would be a complete violation of employee rights. In our department, we have had a manager side with another employee on a matter where they wanted to put her on a 6month probation after the employee had worked here for more than five years. After all this harassment, the employee gave up and switched teams to avoid any further harassment from her manager. This would only allow managers to fire / layoff employees they do not like.

    1. A lot of the concerns that Veronica’s raises were brought up in the session. Another troubling aspect to the idea is that if the most-senior and least-senior employees were punished for the same thing, the punishment would be harsher for the more senior person; the least-senior person is already at the bottom of the bidding ladder, so the seniority-based punishment would not impact him or her at all. Discipline needs to be consistent and evenly applied.

  2. The version of 9.1.3 above no longer has this language, “All straight time hours worked by an employee as well as utilized accrued vacation time will be used in the calculation of overtime. ” Has this aspect changed?

    1. I just want to clarify that the verbiage in our bargaining updates doesn’t constitute a “version” of an article or actual contract language. We’re just summarizing/highlighting things here.

  3. Why not make it simple. If your on a work plan you lose those seniority rights. Until such time that you shape up and get off the work plan.

    I agree though this isn’t so cut and dry. Many, not all employees use the shield of senority to do as little as possible. While others must make up the slack. Can be quite frustrating.
    In the steel workers union they have a simple solution. Were members of a affected work unit have a “discussion” with that underperforming member in the parking lot and things sort themselves out.

    I don’t feel that approach is valid in our situation. So in fairness I would believe that since you should to draw a line somewhere a work plan is fair place to put it.

    1. This approach is what give us a bad name – allow the hardest working and smartest to shine – the rest should acquire more skills or work harder. The “I was here first” mentality is hard for me to get behind. It feels that medicare drug expansion by the republicans – give to the noisiest and forget what is going to do long term to the program or if it will serve most.

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