Clarification re: Impasse, Looking Ahead

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Many of our members told us today that they were distressed or confused by OHSU’s communications about our July 19 mediation session and the declaration of impasse. We hope that the following information provides some clarity. As we mentioned in our own update, on Friday we let the OHSU team know that we were willing to declare impasse if they presented us with supposals or proposals that included PTO, health-insurance take-backs or tiered language (i.e., different benefits and wage increases based on hourly salary or hire date). Before we address why these three areas (and wage increases) are so important, we’d like to set the record straight on a few of the statements in OHSU’s communication:

  • It’s not unusual that Local 328 “unilaterally” declared impasse. That’s how it works – it’s not something that the two teams need to do together.
  • Our union, too, is disappointed that we couldn’t reach an agreement on Friday. The fact that this is the first time in more than 20 years that impasse has been declared should make it clear that this wasn’t a decision that was made on a whim.
  • Everything outlined in OHSU’s communication came from a supposal — a supposal is a non-binding, “what-if” scenario.
  • OHSU’s supposal did propose pulling the health-insurance take-backs, which we welcomed, but it still contained PTO and tiered language. It did not “meet the majority of the union’s interests on three primary issues.”
  • Our team responded to OHSU’s supposal by declaring impasse because we felt no further movement could be made that day and that movement on key issues was unlikely to be made on July 23.

At the time we declared impasse, we had participated in six days of mediation. Our team had consistently told OHSU’s team that the three key areas mentioned above were non-starters, with OHSU consistently presenting us with supposals and packaged proposals that included all of them. OHSU’s non-binding supposal presented at the end of the day on Friday had pulled the health-insurance take-backs, but not PTO or the tiered language. In the hopes of avoiding impasse, our team asked representatives from OHSU’s team what it would take for them to pull PTO. We were told that nobody on OHSU’s bargaining team could make that decision — that it would involve “meetings” and “conference calls.” About six hours passed before OHSU responded to us on Friday — why weren’t the decision-makers brought into the loop during that time? On what was the sixth day of mediation, why weren’t the executives who make OHSU’s decisions available to keep negotiations progressing?  We wouldn’t have been able to reach an agreement on Friday night and, based on our experiences during negotiations over the past five months, we had no reason to believe that the scheduled day of mediation on July 23 would have made a difference. That’s why Local 328 declared impasse.

In the end, it’s not really important what OHSU’s communication said, although we’re sorry that it threw our membership — and our non-AFSCME-represented coworkers — for a loop. Our communications throughout this process have been consistent, direct, honest and complete, and they’ll remain so. Going forward, we ask that our members focus not on messages crafted by OHSU’s Strategic Communications department, but on the proposals and what’s at stake as we work together to get a fair contract.

The Main Sticking Points

Health-Insurance Take-backs: It’s obvious why our team has so strongly opposed OHSU’s proposed take-backs in this area. Our members can’t afford the financial hit, and these take-backs are unreasonable and unfair in the light of OHSU’s record profits. OHSU’s “fundamental purpose is to improve the health and well-being of people in Oregon and beyond” — that should include its own employees. While OHSU’s non-binding supposal on July 19 did pull these take-backs, in light of the rest of the content of the supposal, it simply wasn’t a big enough step forward on the path to reach a fair settlement.

Two-tiered Contract Language: There are a number of reasons our union is strongly opposed to this. It’s a well-known way for employers to divide a bargaining unit and weaken a union. This article explains it a bit more. Suppose we had said yes to optional PTO for current employees and mandatory PTO for new employees — what do you think would happen three years from now, when OHSU will almost certainly take another shot at mandatory PTO for everyone? Well, we probably wouldn’t have enough member support to fight it — newer employees with PTO are unlikely to withhold their labor or be willing to give up other contract language so that older employees can keep their VAC/SIK system. We say this based on past experience — when OHSU came for the PERS pick-up in 2012, we were unable to build enough support to fight it, because the take-back didn’t impact UPP folks. We also think it’s unfair to throw future members under the bus — if PTO isn’t good for us, it wouldn’t be good for them. We’re stronger together, and we want a contract that’s fair for all of the employees we represent.

PTO: While there are certainly some members who would prefer a PTO system to the current VAC/SIK system, the vast majority of our membership is strongly opposed to PTO. That opposition has been consistent since before bargaining. There’s a reason that all of the unions at OHSU — who represent employees who punch a clock — are opposed to PTO. Because it’s faculty and managers who benefit the most from a PTO/EIB model — employees who don’t have to use their accruals to cover a late arrival due to child-care issues or an early departure for a medical appointment. More importantly, we view PTO as problematic from a patient-safety standpoint. Under a PTO/EIB model, there will absolutely be employees who feel they need to come to work sick in order to preserve their accruals for vacations and spending time with their families. This will put patients at risk of catching contagious illnesses from employees, and that’s not something we can support.

Across-the-Board Wage Increases: You may remember that OHSU’s initial economic proposal included yearly across-the-board wage increases of 1.0% for employees making more than $19.23/hour and 2.0% for those making $19.23/hour or less (once you knocked off 0.5% for pay-equity purposes). Local 328 believes that higher increases are a better way to help lower-wage workers — that’s why we initially proposed raises of 5.0% and 4.0%, for everyone, over two years. In the offer we presented to OHSU on July 19, we asked for across-the-board wage increases totaling 12% over three years. OHSU’s supposal offered increases totaling only 6.5% over three years. This simply isn’t in line with the realities of living in the Portland metro area.

Side-by-Side Comparison of Latest Positions

Below are the details of AFSCME’s and OHSU’s positions, based on the supposals exchanged on July 19. We’ve shared our thoughts about these areas and any proposed movement, even though nothing has been agreed to yet.

Issue AFSCME OHSU Our Thoughts
Length of contract 3 years 3 years We moved to OHSU’s position.
PTO No Optional for current employees, mandatory for new employees The majority of our members have said “no PTO” for two years.
Two-tiered language No Still proposing splitting our unit with their PTO proposal This is a non-starter.  Contract tiers are a typical way for employers to divide and conquer a workforce.
Across-the-board wage increases 12.0% 6.5% Our members cannot accept such low increases when OHSU has publicly stated that they are “on track for a record $150 million profit on record revenues of $3.2 billion.”
Insurance premiums Current contract language Current contract language This is great movement — our actions are working!
Spousal surcharge No No This is great movement — our actions are working!
Cap on premium increases Current contract language Current contract language This is great movement — our actions are working!
Low-cost- option health plan This is something to be decided by the Employee Benefits Council This plan would offer savings to both OHSU and employees, including extra benefit dollars of $25 – $75 This is a great option for our members, and we appreciate that the EBC is planning to offer it to OHSU employees, but it isn’t a part of negotiations.
Wellness surcharge No Yes OHSU’s supposal required AFSCME to vote with management at the EBC on implementing a “wellness inventive/ surcharge”
Vacation 1 additional day for all employees hired after 9/11/1998 1 additional day employees at 0 – 5 years Employees both new and long-term have stated in OHSU employee-engagement surveys that burnout is a problem.  This is a patient-care issue.
Weekend differential Yr 1: 3%Yr 2: 5%Yr 3: 7% No Weekend shifts are hard to fill and our workers end up working overtime to cover these shifts.
Preceptor pay 5% Pilot program: $1.00 after completion of preceptor education, certain jobs only (PT, OT, RT, SLP tech, surg tech, rad tech inpatient only, echo tech) We are very close here but don’t want only a pilot program or only certain classifications eligible.
Float differential 3% (~1 range higher) for float-pool employees No HR requested we bring this to the bargaining table.  We are perplexed that it continues to be an issue.
Community advisory board Yes No This proposal would cost very little.  There currently is no venue for all OHSU constituents to discuss ways to improve the workplace and the community.
Staffing task force Yes No This is a very low cost proposal.  Departments are so short staffed that patient care is often delayed.
Aid for lower-wage workers Dedicated need-based funds for lower-wage workers, to be distributed by AFSCME $100,000/year to hardship fund to assist w/ training or w/ food/transportation/  housing insecurity This will be wonderful for our members.  We look forward to creating this program.
Co-branding Yes OK as agreed upon between OHSU and AFSCME (hardship fund, CWE Center, etc.) We are very close on this and appreciate OHSU’s movement here.
Wage increases retro to 7/1 Yes No — lump-sum payment instead We believe that a retro payment of the across-the-board increases is better for our folks.
403(b) Withdrawn No We moved to OHSU’s position.
TriMet passes Free Passes offered at $50/year We moved to OHSU’s position. This is great for our members. (TA)
Appendix A (salaried employees)
Progression increases Yes Yes This is fantastic for our salaried folks!
Meal and rest periods Yes No We believe that all employees should be able to take rest periods so they are able to provide great patient care.
Time tracking No Yes (e.g., for grants/ projects or supporting an FTE increase) We are very close on this.
Pay for work on holidays Yes No We believe that all employees should receive a premium for working on a holiday.

Local 328’s bargaining team is dedicated to preserving affordable health-insurance, ensuring wages that adequately support the costs of living and working in this area, treating future employees as fairly as current employees and protecting a time-off system that doesn’t encourage employees to come to work sick. Our union is and always will be guided by our members’ priorities and activism. It is because of our members that we have moved OHSU’s administrators off so many terrible proposals. Local 328 declared impasse because we know our members are standing with us, defending our OHSU, the institution we sacrifice for and believe in.

We remain focused on reaching a fair settlement with OHSU, and look forward to continuing to work toward this goal in the coming weeks. In the meantime, though, since OHSU clearly isn’t listening to our members, it’s time to take to take a stand. We need to come together with allies, community partners, elected officials and our union family and make our voices heard! In a little under three weeks, we all have a chance to show OHSU’s leadership that we won’t sacrifice our patients’ safety and our own well-being so that executives can haul in more bonuses. Join us at our informational picket on Thursday, August 8, from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. Defend our patients, our contract and our OHSU!

155 thoughts on “Clarification re: Impasse, Looking Ahead”

  1. So the next meeting, Monday?, we will potentially have an agreement in all areas? Being an employee of 16 years and tapped out, I depend on the yearly COL increase. 1% is a slap in the face.

    1. No, KB, we won’t have an agreement on Monday. The teams will be sharing our last, best, final offers that day, but we probably won’t have another mediation session for another week or so after that.

      (OHSU’s Friday supposal was for increases of 2.5%, 2.0%, and 2.0%.)

  2. can you clarify the following points:

    1) Preceptor pay-why is pharmacy left off this this list?
    2) what is meant by wellness surcharge? (if you don’t get a physical you have to pay more?)
    2) 403b withdrawn-does this mean the 6% contribution to 403b is going away?

    Thanks!

    1. Preceptor pay: The limited list of positions is what OHSU has proposed. Local 328’s proposal applies to eligible employees in any position.

      Wellness surcharge: That’s also coming from OHSU, so we don’t have the details. But yes, it means that if you don’t meet certain requirements (perhaps including getting a physical), there would be an additional charge.

      403(b): There’s no change to any existing contributions. Back on April 23, Local 328 had proposed a 403(b) contribution match for OHSU to partially match our voluntary contributions to a 403(b) retirement plan—it’s only this new proposal that was withdrawn.

      Please let us know if you have other questions!

          1. One more clarification: Is OHSU still pushing to take part of the cost of living raises to put into the pay equity bank (prior proposal was 1.5% raise with 0.5% going to pay equity)?

  3. Thank you for this very helpful article! Now we just need everyone to read it! Is it going out in email form as well?

    1. Lauren, you can follow Terri’s lead and print out a couple copies to give to people! Put it in break rooms, etc.

  4. Thank you for the detailed explanation! I am especially glad you explained the reasoning behind opposing the two-tiered contract. Dividing us would clearly make our union weaker for future contracts. The bargaining team has been incredible and we are thankful for all the time and effort you have all put into this process. Solidarity!

  5. The table makes issues alot easier to understand. Thank you. Great job. I would like to see this again as topics are updated after the cool down period.

  6. Thank you for the very clear summary of where we stand. I am happy to see the strong stand on PTO and not allowing our members to be divided. If someone wants to see how that plays out over the long run, you just have to look at the Schedule A and Schedule B created by Kroger that UFCW is battling now. They are voting to strike and this is one of their driving issues.

    Surprise. Mostly women and minorities get hired in at the lower tier and consistently get paid much less than their white male co-workers. Dividing members is dangerous idea and gives management a legal out path to pay marginalized people less.

    That being said, I was very please to see the proposed aid for lower wager workers and that OHSU management was in agreement. That would be a collaboration OHSU can be proud of!

    1. Ding ding ding! You got it! Splitting us on VAC/SIK and PTO/EIB sets up for failure in the future. Thank you for your support, Chris.

  7. Yes this will make alot of members understand what’s going on. I’m going to print it out and distribute wherever I can. Food service and evs break rooms. I don’t know where transportation or logistics is, maybe someone else can do those? Remember that not alot of people read posters on the wall. I have 3 signs on my nutrition room fridge and people still don’t label pt food, lol. Plus if you can hold it, you can pass it on. Thanks for the info. Solidarity, heck yes!

      1. You rock! I actually had a person from transportation ask me questions about bargaining today. I really think we are effectively spreading the word. We just have to keep the ball rolling.

  8. I’m heartened. There’s more progress described here than I thought. Thank you to the AFSCME bargaining team!

    But don’t read heartened as accepting. If this were the final contract offer I would reject it. There’s more to be done after the multiple contracts of takebacks.

    1. Matthew-Thank you for taking the time to read our blog post. I am glad it was helpful to you. We don’t think that this would be an acceptable final offer from OHSU either. We will find out what that is on Monday. In the meantime, talk to your friends and co-workers and get them to come to the picket on August 8th 4-6pm Mac Hall fountain. It’s also time to start thinking about how you would vote in the strike vote authorization taking place August 19-29th. Hopefully it will not come down to that, but members need to start thinking about and preparing for the worst case scenario, which would be a strike.

  9. Thank you for the clarification. When I heard about OHSU making PTO optional for current employees and mandatory for new employees my mind immediately went to the PERS tiers and how there’s so much resentment towards people who are in tier 1 or 2. It’s difficult to work in an environment that exaggerates the tension between the “old timers” and the “newbies”.

    I’m also really disappointed that OHSU simply has not been listening to us when we say over and over that we do not want a PTO program. I feel like we’ve wasted a lot of time listening to them talk about how it makes OHSU “competitive” when the unclassified folks I know who got forced into it really don’t like it.

    1. I agree! I also feel that way about the vacation hours awarded. People before ’98 get far more vacation than those hired after. The difference is really upsetting and frustrating. We cannot allow this to happen again!

  10. Since when is time tracking for salaried employees on the agenda? That’s one of the great benefits of being salaried is NOT having to track time. If the contract states it’s for project or FTE purposes suddenly everyone is going to be in a project or they’ll want to analyze FTE levels. Please don’t agree to that.

    1. There are currently some salaried folks whose supervisors are requiring them to track their time. We want it stipulated in the contract that any time-tracking would be on a voluntary basis only.

  11. Thank you! This is very clear and very helpful. The email from OHSU today felt terribly manipulative. I appreciate this honesty and transparency.

  12. THANK YOU! As always I am put to ease by the intelligent, organized, and truthful words of my union! OHSU put that email out in a direct attack on AFSCME. They are immature, manipulative, and just plain slimy. I knew AFSCME would have a response to rise up, and I couldn’t be more proud. This is the OHSU I’m fighting for; the one that stands together, trusts each other, and is genuinely in this to better all of us. We have put so much hard work in, it’s our turn to get some relief. We deserve a fair contract, we deserve no more take backs, and we deserve a raise that allows us to live.

    “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

    “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead

    “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” ~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy

    1. Whoever writes those emails tries to make it seem like OHSU is the victim. Every. Time. The missives drip with manipulative prose and it’s so obvious they should just stop trying. Pathetic. Nobody is buying it.

      1. Seriously, it’s like reading emails from a guilt-tripping parent. Nice try, OHSU, but I know better than that by now. What a bad look.

  13. I came from another local healthcare system where the PTO all went into one bucket, no separation of PTO/EIB, etc. I was earning over 9 hours every 2 weeks, therefore I always seemed to have plenty of time saved up for vacation or illness, and managed my own disbursement. I spent 10 years under this system, and now I’ve come to OHSU where I get 3.79 hours every two weeks, and never seem to be able to accrue enough time to take much vacation. And my sick bank is overflowing since I don’t use it much. I much preferred the system where I could choose to use what I’d earned for what I needed or wanted.

      1. I completely agree. A one bucket PTO system would be ideal since it provides more flexibility. Perhaps OHSU could move in that direction as a compromise.

    1. Lorraine, I’ve had a similar experience at other employers. Assuming all else is the same, PTO is a fundamentally better system for everyone because it gives workers more freedom in how they use their leave and less sudden coverage to deal with from unscheduled sick time. I’d rather AFSCME argue the details of PTO rather than toss out the system wholesale.

      If the original proposal had been optional PTO, with no mandatory rules and no other changes to the system, I think people would have been fine with that. I’m fine with people sticking to the old system but if I want PTO, that’s frankly not other people’s business.

      And I think the “two tier” framing is overblown. We have options in how we use our benefits. We have options in whether we buy a transit pass, get tuition benefit and a multitude of other things. This doesn’t create “tiers.” It’s just options and flexibility. Pushing OHSU to propose optional PTO is progress. Go ahead and fight the mandatory system for new hires. Great. But if we can bargain to a place where some members can choose an option that won’t affect other current members, let us have our option.

      1. Transit passes and tuition benefits are benefits that are optional for members, whereas employees are required to have a retirement plan and take part in a time-off system. (Like you, we don’t think transit pass vs. no transit pass represents tiers.)

        Tiered language weakens our union’s ability to negotiate (e.g., PERS vs. UPP) and can create resentment between newer and older employees (e.g., higher VAC accruals for pre-9/11/98 hires vs. lower accruals for others); it’s not just “framing” to our union, and we don’t agree that our concerns about it are overblown.

      2. If you have PTO and get a lingering illness, or a chronically sick kid, or are prone to injury then you will never get a vacation. You have to eat through too much PTO. By keeping sick and vacation apart we are protecting our more vulnerable members and their work life balance

      3. I’m only ok with PTO if it is all one bank AND it accrues at the same or higher rate as what managers and faculty get. The current rate of sick and vacation is horrible.
        Otherwise, it’s just OHSU containing costs to make money off me to pay bonuses.

      4. I suffer from chronic illness and due to policy, my sick time HAS to be used for my fmla if there is any in my bank. If we switch to pto, I would never have a vacation with my family (which has to be short and not agitate my illness). Or I would have to work in a state that is not safe for me to take care of my patients. I would be working only to not be sick which makes me sicker. I feel for you but, NO PTO!

          1. Everyone on this thread appears to be debating the details, which I don’t think anyone here really disagrees on. Obviously, no one wants a PTO system that allows for less time off or less sick time. A standard PTO system, which again I’ve had for years at other employers, simply allows for using PTO when you’re sick and the same bank when you need vacation because frankly that difference isn’t an employer’s business.

            Why do I need more time off than under normal circumstances would be vacation? Because I have chronically ill family members that are a full day’s flight and drive away. I’ve gone multiple years without a real vacation because I have to choose between spending a meaningful amount of time with 3 far flung family members unable to travel OR taking time for myself.

            I don’t want anyone to accept a system that makes their circumstance worse but when people say I shouldn’t even have an option, they’re making a very bold assumption that I haven’t also thought through this carefully and don’t also have personal circumstance driving my position.

            A mandate for a section of employees is a tier. I don’t disagree with that. An option is not a tier.

          2. Thank you for your support! We are our union, and I value the fact that we can come together and I value you and your opinion.

  14. A big thank-you to our bargaining team. Hopefully, OHSU will move on the remaining issues. I really appreciate your thoughtful explanation of the differences between OHSU and AFSCME’s positions.

  15. Not to be repetitive but THANK YOU! I really dislike the way OHSU Administration tries to manipulate information and seems to assume we cannot think for ourselves and make informed choices.

  16. This was incredibly helpful, and the table was a really clear way to show where AFSCME and OHSU have come together, and where there are still issues.

  17. Y’all are doing such a great job fighting for us.

    Please don’t budge on the 12% over 3yrs. It should be 15%, but 12 is fair.

    It’s pretty telling that OHSU now’s post about AFSCME impasse has the comments closed.

    See you on the 8th. Thanks again for all you do!

    1. I have to point this out because people are missing the point. OHSU doesn’t grow enough year over year for a 4% COLA plus step increases. They will NEVER agree to that kind of increase. If you look at past contracts, the combined increases are usually more in the vicinity of 4% combined (keep in mind some people get larger steps than others).

      We all want the best contract we can get but a contract giving 6-8% a year is very unlikely to get approved without a big concession somewhere else (like PTO).

      1. Adam they gave a 26% bonus to the former OHSU president. They have 2 consecutive years of record profits since then. The city of Portland employees get whatever the cost of living increase is for the city with a floor of 2% and a cap at 5%. OHSU most certainly can pay that right now.

  18. Thank you for explaining everything so clearly. Sometimes it’s hard to see all of your hard work because things have to be kept confidential.

    When I read OHSU’s email I knew there was more to the story. I’m sad to say that my first thought was what are they not telling us, It’s a hard pill to swallow that I now cannot trust what OHSU says.

    OHSU needs to know that they can’t manipulate us. We are not as dumb as they think and definitely not to poor to fight for what we deserve!

  19. Thank you to the bargaining team and to everyone helping keep us informed. I was frustrated (but not wholly surprised) that OHSU shut off comments on the blog post about bargaining. OHSU, if you’re watching, here’s a message for you:
    Silencing our direct, communal feedback will not make your employees’ valid concerns disappear. Trying to twist the narrative and make it seem like AFSCME doesn’t support lower income staff is absurd. AFSCME doesn’t want to split the bargaining unit BECAUSE it cares about lower income staff and wants to keep us a united team with an effective voice. To imply otherwise is to disregard AFSCME’s long, documented history of supporting employees–especially lower income employees–who are oppressed by unfair labor practices. And to my fellow AFSCME members, I know it can feel demoralizing to see our employer value profit over people. But I’m so impressed by how we are uniting as a team in this bargaining session, and the many inspiring ways we are helping each other–even when we feel like OHSU doesn’t want to help us at all.

    1. Jackie had a good suggestion about them disabling the comments. She said we should just flood other posts on o2. Even if they have nothing to do with this

      1. While I really don’t appreciate being shushed on a hot topic like the impasse announcement, flooding other pages really looks immature and like giving OHSU license to squelch members even more. Have your strong opinions but voice them in the appropriate venues instead of spamming unrelated stuff.

      2. Yesterday a comment I made was deleted on the OHSU Now post about their free socks: “I don’t want free socks or marathons (etc)… just a fair contract!”

        Apparently, it violated rule #3 “stay on topic”, and they said my comment was not related to the post. I was threatened that this time they decided not to notify my manager but next time they will. Here’s a quote from the end of the email as well for your reading pleasure,

        “We don’t take deleting comments lightly. It is our desire to create a two-way dialogue between employees and the institution. We also don’t have any interest in censoring comments we disagree with. Dissent is important to any university setting. But we do need guidelines to keep comments productive, including keeping comments on topic.”

      3. Since OHSU will delete OHSU Now comments that don’t follow the commenting guidelines, and these deletions often come with an email to the employee’s manager, we can’t recommend making off-topic comments in that forum. It’s unfortunate that the employer hasn’t given our employees a way to comment on OHSU’s posts/emails about bargaining, but they do read our blog and see the comments that are made here.

        1. My comment to Nate was made in passing as an attempt at lighthearted humor. To be clear; Please don’t comment inappropriately on OHSU Now.
          What’s not humorous is the amount of money OHSU makes off my hard work only to ask me to “cost share” to make them more.

      4. Hey Nate! I tried that, they remove your post and CC your manager in the email. Thankfully, my manager knows they are just being bullies. I will not be silenced.

  20. Thank you for this. It isn’t fair. My rent is increased by a hundred dollars a month each year. The rent increase cap of 7% plus inflation is a hundred dollars a month. If my wage stays the same, how am I supposed to pay my rent and buy food? I don’t qualify for food stamps and going to the food bank once a month only gives me enough food for a couple days.

    1. The cost of living is why we asked for 12% over the next 3 years. The housing crisis is part of the driving force to declare impasse. We want people to afford to be able to work at OHSU. Know you’re not alone Kami. You have thousands of members who stand with you and share your same concern. Enough is enough

  21. Thank you very much for the clarification. Apparently I just need to see things in table form. :)

    I was somewhat on the fence about the PTO vs VAC/SIK question, but reading your clarification here, I can see that it’s about more than just the way our much-needed refreshment/recovery time is calculated. It’s about solidarity among members and keeping an eye towards protecting all members in the long term, which I very much appreciate.

  22. Does anyone know of any news organization covering this yet? I want to post it on social media but I always prefer to link 1-2 news sources to prove what I am saying. The blog is GREAT but I think media coverage speaks louder to the general population.

  23. I agree it is just say NO to PTO. I wanted to know if anything was addressed separately on the cash out portion of the PTO package. Especially the reductions moving to 80 hrs. max at half rate when leaving. In their supposal if you choose to keep PTO did you also keep the cash out?

  24. I’m so sick of receiving those propagandistic OHSU now email “updates” on the contract negotiations. Can I opt out of receiving them altogether?

    If not, perhaps we should all just filter them directly to our spam folders, so OHSU knows we’re not even reading them.

    1. The propaganda is a reminder that their proposals are far removed from the reality of living and working in this region.

  25. AFSCME, I love you, I appreciate you, and I am thankful to be a union member with all your hard work and support. However….
    I’m feeling some frustrates at this point.

    1. PTO systems are pretty standard. It’s not ideal, and I’m not thrilled about it, but OHSU just made an offer to allow it to be optional for current AFSCME members. In regards to choosing to come to work sick vs. choosing to take vacation, why is it so difficult to expect educated adults to budget their time wisely? Don’t blow all your PTO on vacation, plan ahead, and for the love all things good, start enforcing employees and patients to wear a mask when they are coughing. I don’t think OHSU’s proposal was unreasonable IMO.

    2. In regards to float positions, the proposal for a differential was initiated by the Ambulatory Float Pool who covers over 70 out-patient clinics both on campus and off campus (sometimes we travel all the way out to Scappoose, and no we do not get reimbursed for it.) The level at which we perform is not at all the same as department floats. We don’t have “a clinic we normally work at,” we don’t float between a few different clinics within one department, and sometimes we will have a clinic that we go to that we haven’t been to in months and the processes and staff has changed so drastically, we literally have to relearn everything. There are also days when we are on the tram to go up to the hill to work in pediatrics and we get a page saying “You have been reassigned to neurology at CHH.”
    We gathered this information, presented it to our union rep who then presented it to HR, who said we needed to bring it up at bargaining. This was a year ago. While I understand that department floats also have to do some travel (such as the CHO floats), and require flexibility, it’s nowhere near the level we work at. We even had written statements from former floats explaining why they could no longer work in the AFP, which also has an extremely high turnover rate.
    It’s infuriating that OHSU is refusing to recognize what every one else sees clearly, but now it feels like AFSCME isn’t getting it either. We’re not the same as all employees who float.

    3. I’m very thankful the insurance take-backs were dropped by OHSU! That proposal of their was a huge gut-punch to their employees. However, I would also like to point out that spousal surcharges are just as common as PTO, and I would bet money it comes up again in the future.

    4. I wasn’t expecting OHSU to pay a differential for preceptor work, because after all, we are a teaching facility, but it would be nice considering how many new MAs and MA externs we train throughout the year. It looks like OHSU is only willing to recognize the higher-paid titles though.

    Thank you AFSCME for all your hard work. Despite some of my frustrations, I’m still extremely thankful for the hours you have put in to make progress on a fair contract. I’m really hoping OHSU and AFSCME can come to an agreement on all aspects soon without a strike.

    1. Local 328 does recognize the challenge of working in the AFP—our current proposal is for a differential for float-pool employees. I’ve updated verbiage in the table so that’s clearer. With that clarification, do you feel the needs of the AFP are being met?

  26. Tony,
    I always tag the HR emails as spam, unless I am using them to show my children what poorly trained interns can write and the difference between the two writing forms of the union and OHSU. The union pieces are always well written while the OHSU seems to be cut and pasted out of some sort of book that I would love to find and make a effort to read to just understand the thought process that goes into writing something that is so bad.

  27. May I ask what is being negotiated on in regards to the 403(b) retirement savings account? I haven’t heard anything about a potential for that changing, but I just saw it listed in the above chart as an issue that is being negotiated. What is the issue, what is AFSCMEs position, and what is OHSUs position?

    Thank you!

    1. Back on April 23, Local 328 had proposed a 403(b) contribution match for OHSU to partially match our voluntary contributions to a 403(b) retirement plan. This was rejected by OHSU. We withdrew this proposal during mediation in order to move closer to an agreement.

  28. Thanks for this side by side comparison. It is a *very* helpful format.

    Our members cannot accept such low increases when OHSU has publicly stated that they are “on track for a record $150 million profit on record revenues of $3.2 billion.”

    Hard to track what those numbers actually mean without knowing more about the current costs. What portion of the $150 million would a 6% raise use? What about 12%?

    1. Part of the work that both bargaining teams are doing this week involves determining the costs for our last, best, final offers. Once that information has been submitted to the mediator and made public, folks will have this information.

      1. Thank you for the quick reply, Jennifer. Will be interesting and helpful to understand the actual context because that will put OHSU’s position somewhere on a scale of Greedy -> Stingy -> Cheap -> Frugal. If greedy, circle the wagons! If frugal, maybe I’d fight more for one of the other proposals.

  29. I wish I could unsubscribe from the HR emails as well. Just a load of BS. Thanks for this clear clarification and the well thought out table. You guys are doing a great job. If OHSU is not going to support its workers during record profits, when else are they going to? So sad to see that I’m just working for another company that values money over people.

    1. I don’t mind getting management’s take on this stuff but I wish everyone got both sides’ emails at the same time (during the bargaining process anyway).

  30. I’m another voice that won’t be able to make the picket due to my location and schedule – I hope enough of my colleagues are able to make it to show OHSU how we feel about their lame excuse for ‘bargaining.’

    1. I’ll picket for you Max. There are many ways you can get involved without picketing on one day. Thank you for your support.

  31. Thank you for the clarity. This breakdown is very helpful. I will be at the picket with friends, family and colleagues.

  32. When I first got here it was a PTO bank. For whatever reason in the past, OHSU wanted to change it to VAC/SIK bank. Now they want to go back. What’s the catch?

  33. As a current non-union employee, I can tell you first hand how terrible PTO is. Having to use 40 hours of PTO just to access your EIB is horrendous. If you have kids, or are just a normal person, you’ll probably have at least 5 days you’ll be sick in a given year, which is a direct hit to your vacation balance. And don’t even get me started on the reduced payout when you leave. They hang the incentive of an annual PTO cash out, that can act as a de facto bonus to offset the payout at termination, but you’ll be lucky to have enough hours to be eligible if you have to use 40 PTO hours annually for what should be sick time and then take even modest actual vacation time.

    It’s also incredibly disingenuous to say it’s not a money making move. If it’s not a money making move then why on the slides presented to the Board of Directors in June is there a line item on the operating statement showing OHSU budgeted to make $15mm from the conversion to PTO for non-union employees but actually made $23mm? That’s right, they made $8mm more than they thought from the non-union PTO conversion. Yes, it is an accounting function but the change does free up that much in cash for the university to spend.

    Keep fighting the good fight. You have a lot of non-union folks on your side, albeit somewhat anonymously given fear of retribution.

    1. Thank you for supporting us and for the information! I don’t think some people realize what OHSU is taking away with their PTO model.

  34. Thank you bargaining team! Really helpful information. We need wages, vacation and sick time and health care that supports us and our families. Those things shouldn’t be the way to bonuses and wealth for OHSU.

  35. I am wondering if OHSU’s plan for the PTO plan is to drop the number of hours they will cash out from 250 to something less I think I heard 80 hours and at half your hourly rate when you leave OHSU. Is this still the plan?

  36. OHSU HR was able to post on OHSU Now (O2) and shut down any comments on the page. Under the post for the Unconscious Bias Initiative post (where comments are allowed) I asked the question and here’s the response and my response:
    Why can’t we comment on the AFSCME post?

    Kelsey Huwaldt
    Terri Weslh, this is also noted in the post, but this is per the OHSU Now Commenting Guidelines: https://now.ohsu.edu/member/page/c6dea172-d624-4433-86b5-f1e0ac6f0d4b. Labor laws and collective bargaining agreements place restrictions on how OHSU and the union communicate about contract negotiations, which are not conducive to an open forum like comments.

    Terri Welsh
    Then why is OHSU HR posting about it at all? That is not conducive to fairness. The HR leadership gets to post their opinions without any feedback and skews the thoughts of non-union membership.

    1. Terri – they removed your last comment (your followup to their reply). So they made sure they got the “last word.” Really annoying. They only want the obsequious, praiseful comments on there, and to make sure people keep passively just “liking” their posts by making it some sort of lame competition.

    2. My comments were deleted from O2 and I received an email from Kelsey stating that I would be reported to my manager if I persisted in posting. So I won’t be posting to O2 any more :(

      1. Hi Terri,

        I had that happen too, my boss just laughed it off.

        OHSU THIS IS BULLYING, you cannot silence us. We will speak up, that is not your choice. We do not live in your fake world!

        Terri, stay strong. Your voice matters. Your truth matters.

  37. I want to thank the bargaining team for drawing a hard line in the sand this year. We’ve been asked to sacrifice in lean times and the time to repay us for those sacrifices is now. OHSU should have shown willingness to negotiate before the State workers’ contract last week came down. The bar for our COL increases over the next few years has now been set by outside forces.

    As an aside from the current contract negotiations – It’s unconscionable that our executives are able to increase their bottom line by enforcing austerity on their staff during a period of record growth and profit and I hope that perhaps this is something PEOPLE can work to address in the future.

  38. I just want to say how disappointed I am that OHSU decided to post their version of what why AFSCME declared impasse. They posted this on O2, a PUBLIC forum, without the option for comments. If this is such a sensitive topic don’t post it in this manner. Not only does this give one side to negotiations and possibly makes non-union employees bitter towards the union and the process, it is the least transparent thing OHSU could do–especially for an entity claiming how transparent it wants to be towards its employees.

  39. Where are we at with the Longevity reinstatement? As someone who has been with OHSU for 21 years I was very interested in this proposal. And was very disappointed with that aspect of the last contract negotiations.

    Thank you for all of your hard work on all of these important issues!

  40. Am sure OHSU is just following what their spin interns tell them to do. They are out of touch not only with their work force but also the public. Just walk the halls and you hear the public talk. They take notice.

  41. What exactly does “Progression increases” mean for salaried employees? The previous contract guaranteed a 1.5% yearly raise in addition to the COL which means that someone starting at the bottom of the pay scale could wait at least 20 years to get to the top of the pay scale, which is totally awesome…………………….except not really.

    1. It means that salaried employees would be eligible for the same progression increases as hourly employees (between ~1.5% – 4.0%, depending on where one falls in the pay range) instead of just the 1.5%.

  42. I heard that with the PTO system, the PTO you use for medical appointments won’t count towards the 40 hours you must use before you can use your EIB. Is this true?

    1. If you would use SIK for it in the current system, you’d use PTS (what the 40 hours are logged) and then EIB in the new system. That’s the way medical appointments are handled for unclassified folks in the departments I’m aware of.

  43. Hello friends:

    I couldn’t believe the anonymous post above.

    So I looked into it.

    If you were ever wondering why OHSU is pushing its employees to a PTO system…

    The answer is they earned $23 Million by switching to PTO. Check out the link below which was taken from the Board of Directors meeting in June. See page 90.

    You could argue that it was an accident. But they budgeted $15 Million for the change because they knew it would bring in earnings.

    In fact, it brought in $8 Million more than they expected.

    Now if you think the PTO system is for your flexibility and freedom to choose, just remember your employer profited $23 Million from the change.

    Be thankful you have a union.

    Source:
    https://www.ohsu.edu/sites/default/files/2019-06/COMBINED%20-%20E%20FILE%20OPTIMIZED%20-%20Public%20OHSU%20BOD%20June%2027%2C%202019.pdf

    See page 90.

  44. I was just informed that Trimet pricing for AFSCME members that want to renew their pass for the 2019-2020 year are being charged $100 as we have not yet reached an agreement with OHSU. If the price is reduced for the 2019-2020 year to $50 once bargaining is completed, AFSCME members who pay in full now may not be refunded as that decision is part of the bargaining. They have changed the pricing for all others this includes UA, Students, Volunteers etc. to $50 effective immediately.

    1. That’s not what the OHSU Now post about the new passes says: “Pricing for all other employees for 2019-2020 is still to be determined and may change once AFSCME bargaining is complete. The current TriMet pass with the existing AFSCME contract is $100 for 2019-2020. If the price is reduced with the AFSCME contract, the pricing would be adjusted for all. This will include folks who pick up their new HOP Fastpass before bargaining is complete.”

      1. The OHSU Now post is outdated and this just happened today. This is what I was told when I went to their office today. If you have questions call Parking at 503-494-8283.

    2. Why does it seem as if OHSU hates AFSCME members? Maybe they just do not respect us, and it is time for us to get respect by voting to strike.

      1. It does seem like that sometimes, but remember, the unclassified folks have it even worse – they were already forced into PTO, already had a 5% insurance takeback for those in the employee only plan, and the standard raise is 2% or 2.5% (without any additional “step” or anniversary increases like we have). I work with mostly research folks, who are not AFSCME yet are not upper managers, and they’ve definitely gotten the short stick because they have no leverage without a union. Basically OHSU is hoping to shaft everyone besides the top management!

  45. @ Agent Eagle: I wasn’t lying. It is listed as a one time item but they neglect to quantify the ongoing financial benefit of the change to PTO, which is likely substantial. If the non-union impact is $23mm, one can surmise that the financial benefit of changing the largest group of employees at OHSU to PTO isn’t insignificant.

    @ Jennifer Barker: In past negotiations and as justification for previous insurance premium hikes for all employees, part of the justification had been due to the impending Cadillac Tax that was part of health care reform under Obama. That tax was repealed within the last few weeks and will not go into effect as previously planned, after implementation had already been delayed two years in 2018. I wonder if that’s why OHSU became agreeable to the no insurance take back line in the sand AFSCME drew? If so, that doesn’t seem like much of a give on the OHSU side of things.

    Regarding the PTO cash out, are they proposing a different plan than the non-union employees have? The non-union payout is tiered so that if a non-union employee leaves prior to a particular date, they would receive 100% payout, if they leave between two dates it’s 75% and after that it’s the 50% of two weeks. That isn’t the exact plan but it’s tiered based both on hire date and the date an employee leaves with the payout reducing over time. Does that differ from what AFSCME is being proposed?

    1. @Anonymous non-union. Thanks for sharing that information. I really appreciate your help. I wouldn’t have looked it up if you didn’t post it.

      I have to say learning about it was eye opening. The negotiating line from OHSU management has been that their intention for the PTO push is not a financial move. However this shows otherwise. And it shows it was intended to be a financial move because it was budgeted for.

      I understand it’s an accounting change, but it does affect earnings. And if it affects earning it could affect bonuses.

      Maybe I’m making the wrong assumption here but I would imagine bonuses are tied earnings performance. If that’s the case, then the PTO push is motivated by a short term financial gain, which is a terrible way to run an organization.

      Either way OHSU management has been dishonest if not outright lying about PTO. Makes me sick.

      Again, thank you for providing this for the group. I’m going to make sure our members understand what’s happening.

    2. Anonymous non-union. Thank you so much for your incredibly informative and insightful comments. In regards to your question to Jennifer about the PTO cash out, I took this from her answer to a similar question “OHSU’s last proposal stated that cash-out would remain the same for current employees, and would be 50% of 80 hours for new employees.” In this case, the cash out amount is tied to the hire date rather than the employee’s final working date.

  46. What is the practical difference between retroactive payments to 7/1 vs the lump sum payment? Would they be the same amount? If you could explain more in depth what the differences are it would be much appreciated!

    1. Hi Kyle. In Local 328’s proposal, employees would receive back pay covering the amount they would have received if our new contract and across-the-board raises had taken effect on July 1. We don’t have any details about what OHSU had in mind for the lump-sum payment–whether it would be percentage based or a fixed amount, or if it would be close the same amount as the retro pay.

      1. One thing we would have to consider is that the lump sum, I believe, would be taxed at 40%. I am unsure if retro pay is subject to the same tax.

  47. When our contract was ratified in 2009, we did not receive a cost of living increase for that year. Rather, we received a one-time lump sum payment that was based on 1% of our 2008 gross salary. One time payments are taxed higher as Mike said, and do not add to our salary base. Therefore, when we received the cost of living increase in 2010, it was based on our 2008 salary (plus any step increases we might have had during the period from contract ratification to July 1, 2010. All of this was done because the economic climate was bad, and there were a lot of layoffs around OHSU. Whether it was stated explicitly or assumed, we believed that if we worked with them during the tough times, they would remember that and share in the growth when the economy improved. It is time for OHSU to remember the financial sacrifices that have been made over the years by its core of employees.

  48. As a fairly new employee at OHSU (but not new to the workforce in general), I would prefer PTO over the current VAC/SIK system. I’d especially prefer a PTO system with a single bucket instead of split between two categories, but neither OHSU or AFSCME seem to be arguing for that. I’ll accept that OHSU is being greedy by trying to reduce how much sick time can be cashed out, but that’s also what I expect from most employers.

    What I find insulting is this statement: “We also think it’s unfair to throw future members under the bus – if PTO isn’t good for us, it wouldn’t be good for them.” Long-time AFSCME members accrue almost double the total amount of time off that I accrue, so no – what’s not good for them very well might be good for me. We’re already split into multiple tiers by the simple fact that we have multiple tiers of accrual rates.

    Nobody is arguing for accrual rates to be flat regardless of tenure, so it strikes me as disingenuous to claim that our union’s position against giving me the option of PTO is purely to avoid splitting the union. And if the hope is to retain the support of newer employees in the future if there’s a fight over PTO that does affect older employees, then telling them they just don’t know what’s good for them is probably not the best tactic (at least in my opinion).

    1. The two-tiered vacation-accrual language is one of the reasons we’re opposed to two-tiered language in the contract we’re currently negotiating—tiers are unfair and lead to resentment within the bargaining unit. (For what it’s worth, it’s currently a very small percentage of employees—7% or so—who accrue VAC hours at the higher rate.) One of the reasons we’ve proposed additional VAC hours for all members who accrue at the lower rate is to close the gap between the two tiers.

      Our union and the great majority of our members oppose PTO for a number of reasons, which should be clear in both our previous posts and in our members’ comments. It’s not accurate to say that Local 328 opposes PTO “purely to avoid splitting the union.”

    2. Newer Employee-I hear that you don’t think it’s fair for existing AFSCME members to decide what is best for future AFSCME members. That, however, is not the case with OHSU’s proposed PTO system.

      Our main issue with PTO, is that an employee with PTO would be required to use 40 hours of vacation time as sick time before they could access their actual sick time (EIB in this case). We feel that this system encourages employees to choose between coming to work sick, or taking a vacation. Our patients should not be subjected to a sick caretaker and we should be able to use our vacation time for vacation, not to go do the Doctor’s or lie in bed sick.

      The reason why we have not discussed a single bank PTO system, is simply because the discussions with OHSU around nearly every proposal that AFSCME made that would benefit employees and patients has been rejected by OHSU and we have had to fight tooth and nail just to maintain the current contract language.

      We spent weeks trying to get OHSU to move on a 1% across the board wage increase and they have yet to propose anything that would help our members afford to live in Portland. We would love to have been able to collaborate with OHSU more, but the fact of the matter is that OHSU does not care about taking care of it’s employees.

      OHSU executives care about continuing to make millions and millions of dollars on the backs of its employees who are the soul reason why OHSU is one of the best healthcare institutions in the country. OHSU made $23million dollars when they forced unclassified employees into their PTO system and they stand to gain $23million more if all 7000 AFSCME members were also switched into the PTO system.
      OHSU executives were given a total of $1.4 million in bonuses last year, which is nearly the exact same amount that OHSU would have made if we had let them impose their spousal surcharge on eligible AFSCME members.

      I am thrilled that as a new employee and a new AFSCME member, that you are paying such close attention to this contract. I would, however, encourage you to speak to as many people as you can who have been here for 10 years or longer and ask them how they have felt after each new contract. Because this contract is about much more than just the last 3 years. It’s about 20+ years of take-backs, sacrifice and disrespect at the expense of hard working AFSCME members.

      1. Under their PTO proposal they’d be offering 5 days of additional PTO which would cover the 40 hours you’d have to use for sick time. I get the argument that they’re “saving” money but since it’s optional this seems like a good offer.

        I really don’t think it’s worth a strike over this PTO program.

        1. Gotta agree with this, the extra five days does mean ill members do not have to choose to use time we would otherwise have as vacation time. This is a much more amenable compromise.

          1. We should be getting more time off overall to use as we choose and NOT have it be only the amount of days that would balance out potential sick days. Our department is perpetually understaffed and overworked. People are leaving due to quality of life. This PTO system is not a good solution. It’s smoke and mirrors.

          2. Adam & JA: The extra 5 days does make their PTO proposal seem more enticing, but on principal, we don’t think it’s right for an employee to be forced to use any amount of vacation time as sick time. If they actually wanted employees to have more vacation or sick time, they could just give us more days in our current system.

        2. Part of the issue is they’ve sold this as not being revenue-generating, but that’s blatantly not true — they come out ahead on this.

          Part of the issue is also, as mentioned, we’ve endured 10 years of takebacks. Enough is enough.

  49. Well put Jennifer and Kasey! Keep doing your thing, we support you! We know the sweat and tears going into this, we see you.

    Thank you.

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