4/16 Bargaining Session — One Agreement, More Work

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Today’s Topics

Today was a big day for both bargaining teams — the last day on which proposals could be submitted, which meant that each team had to have its full economic package ready to go. The exchange was scheduled for 2:30 p.m.

Prior to that, though, OHSU and Local 328 tackled two other issues:

  • A concern raised by management regarding linking contractual seniority rights to job performance.
  • A concern raised by the union about making Employee Resource Groups more accessible to bargaining-unit employees.

After an extensive sharing of interests and brainstorming around management’s issue, several potential solutions were offered. The teams spent most of the morning in discussion, but our facilitator eventually noted that the parties seemed to be moving toward positions and not converging on a solution. After both teams caucused, we agreed that our interests in this area are very different and that we were not going to come to agreement using the interest-based process . We deferred the issue to traditional bargaining to be conducted later in our negotiations.

We did reach a tentative agreement on the union’s issue, concerning ERGs. The broad outline is that managers will be instructed to make a good-faith effort to release members to attend ERG meetings. Members may use their lunch period and breaks to attend ERG meetings, as well as up to one hour per month of employer-paid time. In addition, members may use their current contractually guaranteed education/training time (see contract article 22.1.1) to attend the special events, trainings and speaker presentations sponsored by ERGs. We think this is a nice win for members. The ERGs are an opportunity for everyone, not only minority/under-represented employees, to learn more about the OHSU community, to network and to engage with each other.

The Economic Proposals

Local 328 and OHSU each made extensive, comprehensive economic proposals. It is our intent to analyze OHSU’s proposals over the weekend and give our members a detailed report and summary by Wednesday, April 22. At the same time we will give you a detailed report of our own economic proposals. There will be now be no new proposals made by either side for the remainder of bargaining.

Next Steps

The bargaining teams’ next steps are to finish negotiating our non-economic issues using the interest-based bargaining process.

When we complete that process, we will start exchanging counter-proposals on our economic proposals. We will have lots of opportunity to hear from members about the economics before we respond to these proposals. Please tell your coworkers to look for the complete economic proposals and analysis on Wednesday!

39 thoughts on “4/16 Bargaining Session — One Agreement, More Work”

  1. We received the OHSU HR version of this today. I am looking forward to AFSCME’s interpretation. It seems that some of the economic changes are okay, but I’m not an expert on pay and retirement benefits.

  2. I am very upset. As a UPP member who plans to work at OHSU for another 25 years, this will cost me $10s of thousands of dollars. OHSU continues to have financial success, and yet, continues to cut our benefits every time we have a new contract.

    I also am a bit irritated by the vacation increase for new salaried employees. I’ve been here for almost 8 years, and now a newly hired employee will get as much vacation time as I do?! With attempts to cut our benefits the way OHSU has done so over the past several negotiations, I think OHSU needs to start worrying more about retention than they do recruitment. What is OHSU doing to make me feel valued and to retain me with a proposal like this?

    I feel like OHSU is trying to trick us with this 6% for 6% deal. At first glance, one may think “ok, if I just contribute my new 6% increase to retirement, nothing will change”. But for long term employees, this can have a very significant impact.

    I hope the union shares the opinion that OHSU is trying to dupe us and helps keep our benefits in tact.

    1. There are pros and cons to OHSU’s proposal, and the Union will be making a counter proposal based in large part on comments from our members. But it’s important to understand what OHSU’s proposal does. It takes away the six percent “pickup” but gives all OPP employees a 6% raise. Employees CAN immediately put that 6% back into tax deferred retirement and be held harmless by the proposal. In fact, they would gain a teeny bit because the six% contribution from OHSU would now be based on a slightly higher wage.

      Our concern is that most employees will not choose to do this, especially lower wage employees who, understandably, might need the money for basic survival. Those are the folks who are going to lose out.

      We will be carefully reading all comments from members before making a counter proposal.

      1. It also appears to force employees at or near the top of their salary range to stall out faster, in that they are only raising the top of the range by 5%.

      2. I would be leery that at some point in the future OHSU would cut the 6% increase for UPP members. Just like with PERS they will “transition” that benefit away.

    2. I’m not certain OHSU is interested in long term retention of employees. They are currently paying longterm employees a lot more than they will need to pay new hires. As evidenced by their efforts to induce retirement eligible employees to take retirement by offering incentives. Of course many of the LONG term retirement eligible employees are PERS members so it’s another good way to reduce the number of PERS participants from the rolls.

  3. Here are my thoughts on the proposals:

    1. The UPP deal is not a good one. The UPP is the major selling point of working at OHSU right now. How convenient for OHSU to both increase the payscale by 5% but then greatly slow the time it takes to get there by several years.

    I agree with the comments above. OHSU is trying to attract talent, but they will be reducing retention with this kind of proposal.

    2. What organizations take 21 years to reach peak pay? I certainly haven’t worked at one. While there may be flex in this matter, many of our employees already have low starting wages on the market. This is a bad deal, especially for new employees and also when combined with the UPP proposal.

    3. Shift differentials– I’m not sure if I have too much comment about this. At least there still is a differential, whereas many companies are working hard to remove them.

    4. Increased vacation time for salaried workers–
    This may sound like a good thing, but it really isn’t that great for seasoned employees. Why is the 3-days of vacation only good for the first 5 years of employment? What about employees that have already been salaried for several years? This doesn’t alleviate the problem for salaried workers who have been here over 5 years. These employees have to sacrifice overtime, holiday pay, and shift differentials and receive nothing for it other than an increased workload.

  4. Retirement UPP (cutting contributions in half!):

    Please do not in any way compromise the current 12% contribution to the UPP. These ‘compensations’ proposed by OHSU (which may on the surface sound deceptively similar) are not, and will result in net LOSS of SIGNIFICANT earnings due to multiple (short-term and long-term), including loss of opportunity for tax-deferred investment growth. (This is why OHSU is pushing for this to pass so strongly! They know this!!) Additionally, employees, including myself, who already max out voluntary contributions to 403B and 457B yearly – we will no longer be able to contribute the lost 6% UPP contributions to another retirement fund.

    Health Care Benefits for Relief Employees:

    In other words, OHSU says Relief must meet requirements during a 1-year period, to be eligible for benefits for a 6-month period (2:1 ratio). In the current contract, Relief must meet requirements for a quarter (of a year) to be eligible for another quarter (1:1 ratio). OHSU’s proposal would clearly be a loss for Relief employees.

    Secondly, if a Relief employee does not meet requirements, then he/she must wait another full year to become eligible for insurance??? In the current contract, Relief would only have to wait another quarter. OHSU is betting on saving $$$ by significantly reducing health care coverage for Relief staff.

    I may be willing to accept terms so that Relief must qualify for 6 months in order to be eligible to 6 months of insurance, but NOT 1 year for 6 months of insurance.

  5. When I first started OHSU we were able to retire at 20 years of service instead of 30 years. Why not change it back to 20 years or at least have the people who were here before the change be grand fathered in. This would have cut cost on retirement years ago!

  6. We need a contract that would benefit all of us and not make more loop holes for management to be able to use the contract against us.

    By holding our seniority hostage, is a way that management will use their authority and take unfair advantage of the senior employee in order to get the person that they would want in what ever position.

    A write up should never ever have anything to do with our seniority.

  7. Why is OHSU so bent on cutting the UPP by half? There must be some hidden agenda? I think it is much better for employee welfare to the 6% as part of the retirement plan. There will be lots of employees that won’t put the new 6% salary increase into their retirement plan. They will wish they had when it comes retirement time. We should do whatever we can to preserve retirement income, especially now that PERS is weak-sauce. Not that too many people can afford to do it, but the combination of UPP, 403b, and 457b can create a very powerful retirement. Let’s not mess this up.

    Also, this is this a kind of bait & switch? It seems like they are making us pay for the 6% anyway by cutting in half how fast our wages grow. Not good.

    I am very curious to see what the union’s economic proposals are asking for. Clearly, if we are to get anything new we will likely have to trade off with OHSU’s demands.

    1. They are taking back the 6% pickup and replacing it with a 6% wage increase for current UPP employees. Employees will have the option of putting that 6% increase back into retirement pre tax. So it’s basically a wash for current UPP employees. What the effect of this will be is to make base wages appear higher when compared to other hospitals. They beleive it will help in recruiting. It’s important that we hear from members on these issues, because in a few weeks we will be making a counter proposal. We would like to know what the members think before making it.

      1. Hi Frank:

        They are trying to make us think that it is basically a wash by removing 6 and re-inserting 6. However, it isn’t a wash. If it was, they wouldn’t be proposing this. They are trying to trick us!

        I did the math, and if I am to stay in this position for another 25 years, this proposal will cost me about $40k in retirement contributions from my employers. It’s complicated math to figure this out, and that is their intent. Please make sure the union bargaining team understands this tricky math that OHSU is trying to pull on us.

        1. I’d appreciate an email from you, with the math as you see it. If anything, this could result in higher retirement contributions from existing employees because the percentages are based on a higher base wage. If there is something I’m missing, I’d love to see it. Seriously.

          The people who will be hurt are low wage workers who need the raise and can’t afford to turn around and put it back in retirement and new employees who will come on board without the benefit of the 6% increase.

        2. How many people would this actually effect though? I’m assuming you are taking a hit only because you can’t max out the 457 and 403b?

          1. I don’t know. We might be able to find out how many members are already making contributions and whether or not they’d be able to use all 6% without going over the max. My guess though, is that it’s a pretty small number. Also, and I have to check this, I believe the limits are set by the amount of the contribution as a percentage of your income regardless of who makes the contribution. So there’s at least a couple of things we need to look into. Good discussion, thanks.

      2. How much trouble is OHSU actually having recruiting? It seems like they get at least 50-100 candidates for every job posted.

        I think someone above mentioned the main drawback of the UPP cut: it reduces the tax deferred savings opportunities by 6%. If we choose to re-invest the 6% increase, it will decrease our allotment from 457 and 403b. When the employer contributes, there is no such limitation.
        Granted, not too many employees will be able to afford maxing out both their 457 and their 403b.

        It seems like the UPP should already be a great selling point for recruitment. OHSU just doesn’t like having to price-match new employees to their existing salaries and then have to pay the 12% UPP at the same time. It seems like this is the real issue.

        1. There is a lot to discuss about the UPP plan proposed by OHSU, but employees WILL have the option to put that 6% back into retirement pre tax. That is part of OHSU’s proposal. You do have a good point about it cutting into your total allotment on the 403B plan. We will look into that.

  8. Also, I think OHSU needs to spend more time keeping their current employees happy than try to recruit new ones.

    Many of had to start low on the wage scale. I don’t see we should reduce the UPP just so that the OHSU payscale looks more attractive to potential hires.

    Same with the 3-days extra vacation for salaried employees. Its OK for new employees, but has absolutely no incentive for older employees.

    The relief proposal mentioned by RSK is also a fiasco. I am OHSU is salivating to both keep employees in relief while also making it harder for them to get benefits.

  9. Trading 6% retirement contributions for 6% wage means that many employees will now be paying total 30-40% income tax on that money now, whereas they paid zero in UPP and enjoyed significant tax-deferred investment growth and will also pay significantly lower taxes when taking that money out at retirement (because retirees tax brackets are significantly lower).

    As I mentioned previously, I already max out my voluntary savings accounts, so I can’t move that money there. Essentially, I will be getting a DEMOTION. I, and others (regardless if we may be a minority), don’t deserve to be punished for prudently maxing out my retirement funds.

    Competition for jobs is FIERCE at OHSU, ESPECIALLY for low wage paying positions. I have worked here for over a decade and know many people from many different departments who have voiced the competitiveness and difficulty of getting a job at OHSU.

    Can OHSU provide the positions that they say they are having difficulty filling or being competitive for?

  10. I’m concerned about the UPP proposal and the fact that it could be cutting into the total allotment for contribution to 403B. It appears that this is not as good of a deal as it seems on the surface.

    I agree with Roman, what organization takes 21 years to reach peak pay? I’ve worked at several large and small companies over the past 45 years, and it has never taken that long for me to reach peak pay. OHSU likes to throw out there that they will then be in line with other institutions on many proposals, but don’t they realize that the internet is a wonderful research tool? That statement is simply untrue.

    I have to admit i’m not happy about the added vacation for employees with 5 years and less employment with OHSU. That’s great for them, but I’ve been here 12 years, so why can’t i have 3 extra days of vacation for my more than 5 years of service?

    I can’t wait to see how these proposals play out.

    1. It seems pretty obvious why OHSU is targeting the UPP.

      The UPP is a well-constructed method by OHSU to try to trick their employees. The main focus of OHSU’s proposals have been to reduce payroll as much as possible. This is evidenced by the following points:

      a. OHSU wants to discipline senior employees and halt or suspend their seniority if possible.

      b. OHSU wants to slow the progression of annual step increases.

      c. OHSU wants to suspend 6% of the UPP by giving us a 6% pay increase. It looks good on the surface since they are giving us a 6% increase. However, like Roman mentioned, we will slowly be leaking out that 6% increase since the annual pay progressions are slowed down. Few people stay at a company for 20 years, thus far less of these pay increases will ever be realized.
      d. OHSU says that they want to increase the base pay rates to be more competitive on the market. As Rajon mentioned, it is already extremely competitive to get a job at OHSU. OHSU wants to increase the base pay for new hires so that there is far less room for negotiation with these new hires. Many departments at OHSU are already very strict with what quadrant (step) new hires are placed into. Having a higher base pay rate makes it easier for OHSU to put the majority of candidates into the lowest possible quadrant. This makes it very easy for OHSU to recoup the 6% raise they originally gave. Plus they will be saving extra because the new UPP contribution will only be half as much. OHSU has previously had to increase many of their starting job offers because they weren’t competitive enough with outside companies. The 6% increase gives them much more ammo to provide ‘take it or leave it’ type offers to new employees.
      Cutting UPP has more to do with OHSU cutting long-term employee costs than anything else, especially in combination with decreased step increases and new hires starting in lower quadrants.

      Lower-income employees are hurt because they won’t be able to justify putting the extra 6% into their retirement accounts.

      Higher-income employees are also hurt because they can’t make as many pre-tax deductions into their retirement accounts.

  11. Very well said, Anita.

    If the concern is that lower wage employees could benefit in the now with a negligibly higher take-home pay (which will certainly be less than 6% after taxes are taken out), they also need to understand that it cost them significant savings in the long-term by/in retirement. This is not a 1:1 trade-off… not in the least.

    This will be a significant loss to both low wage and higher wage employees.

  12. OHSU’s economic proposals regarding shift differential are unacceptable. Linking seniority rights to job performance is ridiculous, especially when coupled with the fact that employees are unable to grieve verbal warnings. Ridiculous proposal on OHSU’s part.

  13. Although I am not in the UPP, I feel for those who are with this 6% reduction, 6% raise. I am a swing shifter up here and am not willing to take a roughly .50 an hour pay cut from 7% to 5% on my differential pay. I have no choice but to work swing shift and do, although I shouldn’t, count on that money. It is a nice little extra every pay day. It has always been 7% for swing shift ever since I have been here. I too feel it unfair that new employees to get an extra 3 day vacation and me not. I have been here 9 years now. It would be nice if OHSU would stop blowing smoke and do what is right for us. Just my two cents.

    1. It is not unfair for salaried employees to get 3 days extra vacation because they don’t paid for all the overtime they work. They also have no differentials and no holiday pay and workweeks are typically longer than 40 hours. This proposal actually falls short for compensating salaried employees because it only covers the first 5 years.

      1. The Union has also made a proposal on salaried vacation that is more favorable than OHSU’s. Our proposals will be published this week.

  14. Our department, Clinical Neurophysiology is currently trying to hire new techs for evening and night shifts with little success. A decrease in shift differentials will make it nearly impossible to attract the seasoned techs we need to fill these positions. Also I have been scheduled every weekend for 2.5 years with out the benefit of a weekend shift differential, though the Nurses get one. Since I came on board other techs have been hired and work M-F. If I want a weekend off they will not swap shifts but are happy to work it and get paid time and a half (OT) if they come in on the weekend. I get it that they are trying to shift some of the financial s to attract new young people, but in the proposal it seems to me that they are forgetting the value of dedicated, seasoned personnel.

  15. I would prefer the freedom of the UPP coming into my check. I don’t use a 403b today. If I can save the money tax free or keep it to pay bills, I like the choice. It allows me to adjust for life. I know I should save more and we all should but life happens. I am getting a divorce and that 6% and any other raise I get will allow me and my children to stay in my house. This is my choice and more important to me at this time that I give my children the stability versus retirement for me later. Please don’t take away my right to choose.

    It seems like the energy is from those who save a lot but I would guess they are not the average employee like me. Saving $30,000 + a year is a lot, and probably what many of us make after taxes and other deductions. So while I hear their argument, my heart goes out those who need the money to live now not later.

    I think the fairer approach is to see how many employees really do maximize all their pre-tax savings – I would bet not many. Please find the balance for their desire to save retirement so it doesn’t impede my desires for my family.

  16. The proposed UPP change appears to be posturing which could lead to a matching fund situation re: contributions. We have all seen situations where “companies” match up to x%. If we were to agree to the change, I’d like to see that there be a provision that the 6% be clearly identified, and permanent, for UPP participants. There should not be a “glidepath” as the PERS participants are currently in.

  17. I like the proposed UPP change for the following reasons:
    1. If I continue to invest my 6% employee contribution, my retirement savings will be slightly higher than they were before.
    2. I have the flexibility to pause retirement savings to deal with/recover from a financial emergency.
    3. I could choose to take that 6%, pay tax on it, put it into a Roth, and never be taxed again.

    Here are some questions that I would like to see some clarity on:
    1. If someone is already at the top of the pay range, would they be increased an additional 6%? (The other 5% proposal may partially cover someone in this scenario, not ideal)
    2. Would the Employer contribution become a matching contribution? (If I decide to not invest 6%, does OHSU continue to invest 6%?)
    3. Would my 6% Employee contribution be pre-tax dollars? If so, is that in addition to the existing pre-tax dollar limits? (Clarification on this may negate RSK’s concerns)

    Right now, I would prefer to get the pay increase and have the freedom and flexibility to choose what is best for my family now and at retirement. I don’t like the argument that people can’t be trusted to make good decisions with their money. I should have the freedom to make good or bad decisions.

    Finally, I realize that OHSU offered this UPP change as a package deal with some other unfavorable changes. Perhaps we can negotiate to split this one out.

  18. One more thought…

    According to this UPP FAQ: “OHSU has committed to paying the 12% UPP contribution through 2017″. How does that relate to the current proposal? Could OHSU remove the 6% contribution without working with AFSCME in 2017?

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