Rally Report & Next Steps!

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June 13 was a historic day for AFSCME Local 328. In response to an unprecedented level of take-backs proposed by management, our members and their families rallied at the Mac Hall fountain alongside labor allies and supporters to let OHSU know that draconian cost-shifting of health-insurance expenses to employees and paying wages that don’t cover cost of living are non-starters.

Based on the numbers from our sign-in sheets and the amount of food consumed, we estimate that 900 people came out to stand with us in our fight for a fair contract from OHSU. We were joined by other union members at OHSU — Graduate Researchers United and the Oregon Nurses Association — as well as many unclassified OHSU employees. Other attendees included Jobs with Justice, members of other Oregon AFSCME local unions, CWA, SEIU, AFT and Letter Carriers, as well as representatives from the newly created Little Big Union. Given the strong community support, the AFSCME Local 328 executive board will explore creating a solidarity fund to show support and share resources when it comes time for our allies to bargain. 

Two days prior to the rally, OHSU asked for proof that our union had sufficient insurance coverage for the event. We were able to address this issue in a timely manner to ensure the rally could proceed as planned, but wish the employer had brought this up earlier in the process. In the build-up to the event, management had also raised concerns about violence and property damage arising as result of the rally; these concerns surely must have evaporated as soon as the event began. This gathering was about solidarity, camaraderie and relaxing with friends and family, and it showed.

Early in the event, hundreds of our members took part in a silent, contractually permissible protest to send a clear message to OHSU that we are standing together against their take-backs and that we insist on being treated with respect. Attendees heard from a range of speakers, including members of our bargaining team and Stacey Chamberlain, AFSCME Council 75 executive director and member of the OHSU board of directors. Footage of the rally was broadcast on Fox 12 the evening of the event.

Does a well-attended rally resolve the outstanding issues at the bargaining table? Far from it. While the support is a necessity to the process — and greatly appreciated by the bargaining team — the burden is on OHSU to bring our union a contract package that meets our membership’s needs. Absent that, our union will have no other choice than to (a) escalate or (b) settle for a substandard contract. As we move into the final phases of bargaining, it’s imperative that our members consider what they’re willing to do to escalate if OHSU will not move at the table. Escalation will likely involve an informational picket and a strike authorization vote. As we’ve previously stated, a strike is a last resort and can only be authorized by our members. 

22 thoughts on “Rally Report & Next Steps!”

  1. Great write up, I felt like there was way more than 900 people. I know many of my coworkers could not make it, but there are many more that support a better looking contract. Stay strong, no rational reason we should be seeing cuts in this contract. The last contract saved Ohsu billions by stretching the pay scales to a quarter system and the fact they are making excuses for more cuts is unrealistic and will only grow record profits in the future.

  2. How many times do the workers need to be preached at about austerity? It’s grating, at best, to be asked to shoulder more financial take-backs while our executives congratulate themselves with extraordinary bonuses.

  3. The rally was amazing and it literally moved me to tears. It is incredible seeing the employees of OHSU supporting our union and telling OHSU that we have had enough

  4. I loved seeing everyone out in support! I also agree that many more then 900 were there! Thank you AFSCME for allowing us a safe space to be heard and supported. We back you, we thank you for believing in us, and we won’t back down. The fact that OHSU said not one word about our rally was laughable really. How about supporting your employees even one ounce. Over it.

  5. Thank you for all of your work in putting the rally together. It was a wonderful way to meet other OHSU team members and seeing the support is such a positive boost. The solidarity walk was a huge statement.

  6. Letting the ‘leadership’ of OHSU know that we’re willing to do what it takes to be respected in the workforce. #TooPoorNOTtoStrike!

  7. The rally was awesome! The more we show that we are with our bargaining team the better the contract negotiations will go. Thanks to everyone who could come, it was very empowering to see all the support.

  8. Thank you everyone for coming out! It was an amazing event! Here’s what’s next:

    AFSCME is holding another town hall on Wednesday, June 26th from noon-1 in UHS 8b60. We highly encourage you and your co-workers to attend. We will be discussing our upcoming actions and giving people information about strike authorization.

    To be clear, a strike authorization does not mean we intend to strike. But we want our members to be as informed as possible so they can be prepared for all possible scenarios.

  9. OHSU needs to stop playing games. It can do that by changing its proposals to ones that demonstrate respect for employees and patients and Oregonians. Way to go to all those who came to the rally! Stay strong bargaining team! I agree with Paul, there is no reason for cuts, take backs, cost sharing, reserve funds, reduced cash outs, or spousal surcharges in this contract!

  10. Apparently the last time our union was on strike, the whole ordeal lasted a whopping 4 hours. Do NOT underestimate your value! You have a LOT of leverage. Please remind your fellow union members of this fact! Do NOT settle. Do NOT budge. Nobody wants to strike obviously (Ok, actually I really do want to strike…hehe), but the fact is if it comes to that, it’s likely not going to have a significant impact on your paycheck even if it does!

    I saw a youtube video a few weeks ago. This cat was being chased down the street by a small rat. Get my drift?

  11. I’m so bummed I was unable to attend the rally! I was so looking forward to it, but I was too sick! THANK YOU to all those who did attend! I don’t want to strike, but I will if it comes to that! We need to show OHSU that we will not tolerate the abuse that they’re dishing out! They need to get their heads out of their “you know whats” and show their employees that we are respected and a valuable part of this university!

  12. You’re absolutely right, Nathaniel. Our members are more empowered then ever before and we need to keep that momentum going. Hope to see you at the AFSCME town hall on Wednesday June 26th from 12-1pm UHS 8b60. We will be discussing upcoming actions and strike authorization (if it should come to that).

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