The following comment was made anonymously on our “A Shining City on Marquam Hill?” article this morning. Although we suspect it was written by management or someone else who isn’t actually a dues-paying member of our union, we felt it warranted a discussion, so we’re presenting the unedited comment and our response. The comment opens with “I know you won’t post this…” Wrong.
In a separate comment made about 90 minutes after this one, this person also let us know they’d saved a screenshot of the comment to share with the governor and with Oregon AFSCME’s executive director at a later date. Screenshots aren’t necessary — this blog isn’t OHSU Now.
I know you won’t post this because this is not free speech blog but Ms. Barker or whomever moderates please share this with the bargaining team:
you can blame OHSU and I am sure OHSU is responsible for some and perhaps nearly all of the pointed comments on this blog.
as an employee I see the hate rising. I see the anger this blog and your emails pushes into the the hospital. You can blame OHSU and clearly do for this.
I will say may be they are to blame BUT:
I feel we are creating a Trump like mob mentality. What are going to do if this leads to violence? I am seriously concerned we all know there individuals who simply look for the fight – could they be our employees? may be. Managers, may be, our members, may be – outside folks looking to cause trouble may be. Seems to be a lot of individuals spoiling for fights in Portland.
how do we heal? do you care? how do we work together moving forward – again I feel like this is Trump or whomever it may be on the left – way out on extremes not caring about the damage rather only winning.
Our union should be about being professional – so much of what is on here just seems to hate and anger. I am and expect my union to behave in a way that doesn’t foster such anger and hate. It is not. These vessels seems to stoke and encourage negativity. How about a rally where we go serve food to the poor? Clean up homeless camps, marching on Salem for better policies – why don’t our members rally around this? I don’t blame the union for this but I do blame the union for co-oping and using human emotion. I know OHSU is blame for this and and that – but we control our emotions and our words – btw this is what I tell my 3 year old when she is throwing a fit.
Anger and hate surely motivate. But like the old proverb says:
Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.
Let’s remember this as pour our acid around.
We don’t think hyperbole like referring to employees who are rightfully upset about the prospect of losing money under OHSU’s proposals as hateful is at all helpful. Our members have faced take-back after take-back from OHSU for a decade. We’ve labored under cost-containment and worked in departments that are short-staffed for years — with little thanks from the employer — to help keep OHSU running and profitable. These are facts, not exaggerations. Many of us feel disrespected and, yes, angry, and are speaking up — some of us for the first time. It’s insulting to these folks that someone would then accuse them of engaging in mob mentality, having the potential to become violent or acting like a toddler throwing a fit.
Is Local 328 going to encourage our members to make their voices heard? We sure are. People are outraged, yes, but they don’t need our blog posts to make them feel that way — they just need to look at OHSU’s proposals and read OHSU’s own emails. Are we going to point out to our members that we think the employer’s proposals are unnecessary, unfair, disrespectful and, frankly, greedy? Yes, because we believe our members deserve a fair contract and we believe OHSU can do better, and the only way we’re going to get a fair contract is by speaking up and showing OHSU we’re willing to stand up to get one. You see our members as negative, hateful and uncaring. We see our members as empowered, engaged, thoughtful and acting with solidarity.
You’ve also suggested that Local 328 is “not caring about the damage only winning.” If you’re a member, you would have received an email Thursday night from our president Matt Hilton that we think disproves this claim. Does this sound like we don’t care about the impact of a contentious bargaining campaign? “A strike would have a profound impact on the care that our patients receive and on the research and other work being conducted at OHSU every day, and it would potentially reshape the public’s opinion of OHSU. It’s in the best interest of both parties to reach agreement on a new contract before a strike happens.” Does this sound like we only care about “winning”? “How do employees survive with effective across-the-board wage increases as low as 1%, when they might be facing a 10% increase in their housing costs, when more than half of our members are already spending 40% or more of their income on housing costs?” Or this? “Our union wants OHSU to recognize that shared sacrifice should occasionally be alleviated by shared prosperity. Our union believes that our members are assets to OHSU, not just numbers to be reduced on a spreadsheet. Our union wants a contract that lifts all boats. Our members deserve this.”
You also asked how we can work together going forward. Although our teams are still quite far apart on a number of issues, especially the economic ones, we’ve already reached agreement on many proposals. We’re pleased to have worked together with the employer on language that enhances our steward program and improves the grievance process, and we’re close to agreement on other contract language that will be beneficial to our bargaining unit and to OHSU. We have a couple of days of direct bargaining and number of days of mediation left before our contract ends on June 30. Both the Local 328 and OHSU teams will be working hard on those days to reach a fair agreement — that’s what we all want.
You seem to think that our communications to our members are nothing more than propaganda. Of course we want our communications to be persuasive to our members, just as OHSU wants its communications to be persuasive. The members of our union’s bargaining team and our communications team know the thought, effort and time that have gone into our proposals and our communications. We’ve endeavored to fairly represent OHSU’s proposals and counterproposals — those have largely been take-backs and rejections, though, and we’re not going to sugarcoat that. We’ve shared the positives, too. We’ve also tried our best to ensure our members know what’s at stake for them with this contract, and what it might take to get a fair contract — this contract will be incredibly important to the 7,000 or so members of our bargaining unit, so we’re going to be frank and assertive in the way we communicate about it.
If anyone sees our communications as “fostering hate,” we think they’re just seeing what they want to see. Did you even read the article you made your comment on, or read any of the comments? It’s not hateful for some folks to say they feel like their employer only cares about profits or to mention loans to Moda or to call out the executives who receive very generous bonuses. People are disappointed and feel disrespected, so some of us have expressed negative feelings about our employer — it’s okay for people to be critical of OHSU. Do you really consider statements like the following to be “pouring acid around”?
- “OHSU has brought amazing work experiences and growth my way…”
- “Does OHSU’s vision of improving the health and wellbeing of Oregonians not extend to its own employees?”
- “Is the pursuit of ever-higher profits worth the damage done to the morale and health of its employees, many of who are also OHSU patients?
- “So frustrating to do our best day in and day out and be rewarded with an effective pay cut and decreased benefits when we have record profits.”
- “We’re all exhausted and now this contract negotiation feels like a slap in the face.”
- “Thank you for putting into words the complexity of the emotions we feel. The disappointment, frustration and disrespect with the proposals and attitudes of the executive team at the bargaining table. But, in at least equal measure the passion, commitment and dedication that we feel to our co-workers and patients.”
- “I need to be able to afford to keep working for OHSU. I NEED to be proud of the place I work.”
- “Show up at bargaining with financial and vacation and health care proposals that respect us. Show up willing to engage with the community and employees and support outreach and staffing proposals from AFSCME.”
- “It’s time OHSU starts showing its employees that it actually appreciates the work they do to make their mission a reality.”
- “I am so frustrated, but comforted that we are standing together and speaking up.”
- “I’m sad, disappointed and scared for the future if OHSU gets their way! Take a stand OHSU! Show Portland that you are great by taking care of your employees…the employees who have always taken care of you!”
- “We echo your heartache, and only hope that OHSU is listening. We love our jobs, we love our patients, but we aren’t blind. We are in need of a fair contract…”
- “This stands as a powerful statement of truth in a time of the widening gap between the rich and powerful executives at OHSU and the people who work with integrity and passion to make our community a better place.”
Finally, you asked “How about a rally where we go serve food to the poor? Clean up homeless camps, marching on Salem for better policies – why don’t our members rally around this?” Please don’t insult our members further by implying that many of us aren’t already volunteering and doing things to help our community. In addition, Local 328 has organized volunteer nights at the Oregon Food Bank and other events, and we regularly donate to Labor’s Community Service Agency and other nonprofits. We also regularly send delegations to Salem to do just what you suggest; we did so most recently on April 25. Any member who’d like to support our union in organizing these types of activities is welcome to join our executive board — in fact, our community-liaison and political-action chair positions are vacant! We’ve love to have members who are enthusiastic about community service/events or political action join us — folks can fill out our online contact form for additional information.