5/7 Bargaining Session – Breaks, FTE Increases, Disciplinary Records

Breaks/Lunch and Working off the Clock

This session, we completed work on the breaks/lunch and working-off-the-clock issues that we began last week. Please read last week’s report for a summary of that work. We ended last Thursday at a midpoint in the brainstorming session, and then moved on to considering global solutions. (In keeping with our ground rules, we don’t report brainstorming ideas.) Today the teams were able to agree on a global solution to help address the problems that employees experience in this area. The following agreements are to be placed in a letter of agreement attached to the contract.

  • OHSU and AFSCME will draft and issue a joint statement addressing employees’ right to take and management’s obligation to provide meal and rest periods, the legal prohibitions against working off the clock and restraints on working at home/away from workplace during one’s time off (including vacations). This communication will stress the responsibility and the right of employees to report violations without fear of retaliation. OHSU will issue a reminder communication every 12 months.
  • Employees have the right and would be encouraged to report issues in these areas to their supervisor and to Human Resources personnel. If the problem not resolved, it may be referred to an HR/AFSCME leadership group.
  • OHSU will specifically identify break rooms available to employees, and will then post these locations on O2. This resource will also be made known to new hires.  Any immediate concerns can be addressed by HR/AFSCME group.
  • If employees work in an area without a suitable break room and a nearby conference room is not otherwise scheduled, employees may use it for meal breaks (with appropriate clean-up).
  • Upon an employee’s request, the employer will provide him or her with scheduled breaks.
  • The union and OHSU will create a task force to look into physical space for breaks. This will be paid time for any AFSCME members participating on the task force. A good-faith effort will be made to implement the task force’s recommendations.
  • The Career and Workplace Enhancement Center will develop a training designed to improve workload and workflow and processes. Workload and workflow issues frequently lead to problems such as stress, individual performance issues and pressure to work off the clock, either by missing break or lunch or by staying after their shift to complete necessary work. This class will teach employees and managers how to make necessary changes in workflow. If the work group’s solutions after this are not implemented, the issue will be referred to the HR/AFSCME leadership group.

This agreement could go a long way toward alleviating the problems employees experience with getting their breaks and lunch and feeling pressure to work off the clock to finish work or provide patient care. However, it will require employees to report when they face these difficult situations. Part of the work of the task force will be to provide employees with guidance about how and where to report concern and to protect them from retaliation.

FTE Increases

The next issue dealt with by the teams was the problem faced by part-time workers are unexpectedly required to increase their FTE. FTE increases are not always welcome because many part-time workers are part time by choice. Currently, the contract provides protections for employees who have their FTE reduced, but no similar protections exist for employees who are having their FTE increased.

The stories and interests shared by the teams emphasized the hardship faced by part-time workers who are thrust into working more hours than they planned for when they took the job, versus the need for OHSU to be able to meet the business needs with the amount of employees/hours they need to get the work done. We’re pleased that the teams reached an agreement on this issue as well:

If a part-time worker is required to increase his/her FTE by 0.2 FTE (eight hours/week) or more, this shall be the process:

  1. The employee is advised of the need for an FTE increase and is given the opportunity to accept the increase or not.
  2. If the employee doesn’t accept the change, the employer will make a good-faith effort to find alternatives that might meet the needs of both parties, including but not limited to hiring an additional part-time worker, reorganizing the work, looking for volunteers and considering job sharing.
  3. If, after working through (2), no solution other than an FTE increase is practical, the employee shall have the opportunity to accept the increase, look for another position using the contractual benefit of being an internal candidate or go onto the preferred hire list. The PHL will give the employee preference in filling a vacancy for which he/she is qualified and that better meets his/her needs.

Maintenance of Disciplinary Records

This was an issue raised by management. Their story was about the frustration that managers experience when employees who have temporarily improved their performance regress as soon as the two-year period for the removal of previous disciplinary records has passed. The management team expressed concern that removing records created additional liability if an employee who had been previously disciplined causes a problem with a patient or the public and no record of discipline had been retained. They did note that this is not a frequent problem, but when it occurs is it viewed as a serious one. The union team expressed that AFSCME has no interest in protecting “bad” employees, but the union does have an interest that discipline be fair and consistent and that employees who have truly “righted the ship” are not followed forever by a past mistake. We got as far as brainstorming before the session came to a close and we will resume work on it at next week’s session.

As always, your comments here on our blog or on our Facebook page are encouraged and appreciated.

What Does OHSU’s Pay Progression Proposal Mean For You?

Proposed Changes to the Pay Schedule

How would you feel if OHSU wanted to pay you $13,000 less than you currently make?  If their contract proposals were to go into effect then you would experience a serious hit to your income.  How much you would lose would depend on your current pay range and what quartile you are in, but make no mistake, it would be a loss. How would this happen?

During contract bargaining, OHSU management has proposed to reduce the annual pay increase that employees get on their anniversary.  Currently, if an employee’s pay rate falls within the first quartile, their anniversary increase is 4.25%.  Once an employee moves into the second quartile, the increase is 3.0%; in the third quartile it is 2.75% and in the fourth it is 2.5%.  Typically, employees who start at the very bottom of the pay range make it to the top in their eleventh year.

Management has proposed that the annual percentage increases be reduced so that employees move to the top more slowly.  Under OHSU’s proposal it would take 17 years to get to the top of the pay range rather than 11.

Below is an example of how a pay rate would be affected by the change, using the current pay range for a PAS Coordinator 1 (grade A28):

Current Plan Proposed Plan Annual Diff.*
Year 1 wage 18.30 18.30 0.00
Year 2 wage 19.08 19.03 (104.00)
Year 3 wage 19.89 19.79 (208.00)
Year 4 wage 20.49 20.58 187.20
Year 5 wage 21.10 21.15 104.00
Year 6 wage 21.73 21.73 0.00
Year 7 wage 22.33 22.06 (561.60)
Year 8 wage 22.94 22.39 (1,144.00)
Year 9 wage 23.57 22.73 (1,747.20)
Year 10 wage 24.15 23.08 (2,225.60)
Year 11 wage 24.52** 23.31 (2,516.80)
Year 12 wage 24.52 23.54 (2,038.40)
Year 13 wage 24.52 23.78 (1,539.20)
Year 14 wage 24.52 24.02 (1,040.00)
Year 15 wage 24.52 24.26 (540.80)
Year 16 wage 24.52 24.50 (41.60)
Year 17 wage 24.52 24.52 0.00

*Based on a work year of 2,080 hours

**Range maximum

Notice that by year 6 you would more or less break even, but in year 7 your wages would begin a sharp decline and would not recover for another 10 years. All told, over the 10-year period you would make $13,000 less under the change that OHSU proposes.

Keep in mind that not only would your pay be reduced, so would OHSU’s contribution to your retirement plan; the less you make, the less they contribute.  In addition, instead of being eligible for the longevity increase in your 16th year of employment, you would not hit that milestone until your 22nd year.

OHSU’s proposed changes to compensation will clearly reduce your earning potential.  Their justifications for such a wallop to your wallet? First, that current labor costs are unsustainable. Second, that they want to be more in line with what other hospitals are paying their employees.

Regarding sustainability, OHSU has provided no objective, independent analysis that its labor costs are a problem.  It seems that when times are bad, employees are asked to share the pain, but when things are going well, there is no share in the gain. In fact, regardless of whether OHSU is riding high or scraping by, the message remains the same: employees need to take cuts.

As far as achieving parity with the compensation at other hospitals, it appears that OHSU wants to be a leader in all ways except in how their employees are compensated.  Rather than lead the way, OHSU wants to be in the middle of the pack.  In essence, they are saying that you are not worth what they are paying you.  Does that make you feel that your effort is valued?

4/30 Bargaining Session — Comp Time, Break Rooms, Working off the Clock

The pressure to make progress in bargaining is beginning to be felt by both teams. The clock is winding toward summer and a long list of IBB issues as well as financial proposals still need to be dealt with and responded to.

Today the teams tackled the issue of comp-time accruals, an issue that management brought forward. The union brought forward issues around working off the clock, taking lunch and breaks and access to break rooms. Originally the union had expressed these as separate issues, but, through caucus discussions and in the joint session, it became apparent that it made sense to bargain on them together.

We worked on the comp-time issue first. Following the current contract, under most circumstances an employee may request that overtime worked be converted to comp time, but the supervisor must agree; the exception is when an employee works mandatory overtime — then it is the employee’s option whether to take the compensation in cash or as comp time.

The other circumstance when an employee may accrue comp time is related to on-call employees. On-call employees are paid one hour’s worth of pay for every six hours they spend on call; currently, employees may elect to have that time recorded as comp time.

During initial discussion, OHSU identified comp-time accruals as a concern; some of the examples raised were that some departments have to pay overtime to cover employees who take comp time off and that departments with many high-seniority employees already have a hard time granting enough vacation without adding comp time to the mix. Another concern was that employees who earn comp time take it before they take vacation time, so they in effect have a rotating bank of comp time while building up large vacation balances. A final concern expressed by management was that different areas of OHSU have different staffing problems and constraints, so a one-size-fits-all approach to allowing employees to elect whether or not to record comp time is problematic. The union expressed concern that most of these problems were the result of understaffing and noted that management has available all the tools they need to reduce the use of overtime and the accrual of comp time. Further, the union team felt that the ability for employees to choose whether or not to take pay or comp time was important to quality of work life.

The teams ultimately reached a tentative agreement. Most of the current contract language having to do with comp time will remain unchanged; however two changes were made that have to do with overtime earned in relation to on-call status:

  • First, if on-call is scheduled 84 days or more (three 28-day scheduling periods) in advance, an employee may request that their on-call pay be converted to comp time, but management must approve. If the on-call time is scheduled with less than 84 days’ notice, the choice whether to record the on-call time as comp time is solely the employee’s choice. The result here is that management has an incentive for scheduling on-call well in advance, thus minimizing inconvenience to employees; if management fails to do so, then the employees still get the choice.
  • Second (this is a gain for employees), when an employee is called in to work from on-call status, the employee can designate the premium portion of his or her call-in pay to be recorded as comp time, something employees were previously unable to do.

The second discussion today focused on lunch and breaks, break-room access and working off the clock. As you can imagine, these issues generated a lot of stories about employees who do not get breaks and lunches, employees who work through breaks and lunches and employees who are told to not record a “missed lunch” or “missed break” even though they have not had either. We were told by the union bargaining-team members about inadequate or inaccessible break rooms, performance standards that can only be met by working off the clock and employees who clock out and then complete essential tasks because they don’t want to be disciplined for unauthorized overtime. We heard about employees who feel they have to answer email on weekends or while on vacation just to keep up and about supervisors who have unrealistic productivity expectations because standards are being set by employees doing unpaid work.

Both teams expressed interests around these stories — legal compliance, the physical and emotional safety of employees, providing good patient care, highly engaged employees, effective scheduling and good morale, for example. The list of interests was long and, for the most part, overlapping. While it may turn out that the teams will have differences over how prevalent these problems are and over how to solve them, it seems that both the union team and the OHSU team recognize that to the extent these conditions exist, they need to be resolved. The teams began brainstorming potential solutions and continued that process until running out of time in today’s session.

We will continue brainstorming next week and hope to arrive at a creative and successful solution. Upcoming issues to be worked on are the filling of vacancies, the impact of making employees work outside of their regular work units and the standards and process for increasing established FTEs. As always, your thoughts and comments are appreciated.

4/23 Bargaining Session — Vacation & Holiday Scheduling

In what may have been the most difficult day of bargaining so far, AFSCME Local 328 and OHSU management came to an agreement on a method for an updated system for vacation scheduling and granting time off on recognized holidays. Many employees have brought up the fact that less senior employees in 24/7 work units often have to work most (or all) holidays in a year and do not have access to the more desirable vacation times. Both sides raised a number of interests relating to the issue, including attraction/retention of skilled employees in hard-to-fill jobs, retention of more senior employees, strong team cohesion, positive morale, use of the consensus-agreement process (Article 11.4 of the contract) and recognizing the sacrifice made by more senior employees when they were new employees and had to work holidays and had last choice of vacation times.

After a great deal of debate, a tentative agreement was reached. The terms include:

•    Holiday scheduling will be integrated into Article 12.4.3 – Submission and Granting of Vacation Requests.
•    Vacation requests for a block of time that includes a holiday are deemed to include the holiday.
•    No more than three recognized holidays may be included in an employee’s first-round vacation request.
•    Once every five years, in the first round of vacation requests, an employee may request a block of time off of up to six weeks. This block of time will be granted on a rotating basis, starting with the most senior employee.
•    Holiday pay under Article 11.3 – Work on a Holiday will be based on time worked during the calendar day (midnight to midnight) of a recognized holiday.
•    In Pharmacy, if a consensus agreement on holiday scheduling cannot be reached, selected union members and managers of the work unit, Human Resources and Local 328 staff will negotiate a letter of agreement that must be voted on and ratified by the membership in Pharmacy.

With issues involving seniority, there is no solution that will make everyone happy; balancing the interests of the less senior employees and the more senior employees is very difficult, but we believe the agreement fixes a number of problems that have been around for a long time:

•    The inconsistency and complexity of bidding for vacations and holidays separately has been eliminated.
•    Holidays that occur within an approved vacation period don’t need to be separately approved.
•    The lack of opportunity to take vacation blocks of up to six weeks (one of our membership’s high priorities in our bargaining surveys) has been resolved.

Next week’s agenda for interest-based bargaining includes comp-time conversion, the impact of employees working off the clock and filling of vacancies. As with the matter of holidays and vacation, the parties will probably have to work through some major obstacles in order to come to agreement, but the interest-based process has been working well and the union is hopeful that we can continue the progress we have made thus far.

Union’s Summary of OHSU’s Economic Proposals

OHSU is a world-class academic health center, due in part to the work of the members of AFSCME Local 238. From CNAs to cooks, from housekeepers to ITG system analysts, our members show up every day committed to delivering the highest quality service. The union believes that wages, benefits and other compensation should reflect our members’ significant contributions to OHSU’s success.

As you likely know, last week during bargaining, both OHSU and AFSCME Local 328 presented their economic proposals. In the near future, we’ll put together a side-by-side comparison, and more detailed analysis, of the proposals. We won’t be bargaining on them awhile, but we wanted to give our take on what OHSU has proposed so far.

WAGES

  • If you’re an employee in the UPP retirement system, you’ll receive a 6% wage increase, in addition to any other increase that is negotiated. But this doesn’t exactly mean that employees will receive a 6% raise. OHSU is proposing to pay 6% less into employees’ UPP accounts and putting in their paychecks instead. You could choose to keep diverting it into a retirement account, but  if  you consider overall compensation, this isn’t a raise at all. In fact, it’s a wash. And remember — when this 6% went into your UPP account, it wasn’t taxed; if you take it as pay, it will be taxed.
  • Pay ranges for all classifications would be increased by 5%. This does not mean that all employees would receive a 5% raise. It means that those at the bottom of their pay range would move up to the new bottom of the range, which could be up to a 5% increase. Most employees would see no change in their current pay rate. If an employee is already at the top of his or her pay range, this increase creates additional room to grow, but would not result in an immediate pay raise.
  •  Progression increases in each quartile would be reduced as follows:
    • First quartile       from 4.25% down to 4.0%
    • Second quartile   from 3.0% down to 2.75%
    • Third quartile      from 2.75% down to 1.5%
    • Fourth quartile    from 2.5% to down 1.0%

These reductions would significantly delay your progress to the top of the pay range. Right now, it takes 10 years to get from the bottom of the pay range to the top. Under OHSU’s proposal, that would increase to 17 years.

  • When an employee is hired from preferential hire list, they will receive their previous pay rate, as long as it is not above the midway point of the pay range. If it is above the midpoint then the pay rate will be negotiated by the employee and the unit manager. In either case, the employee’s first anniversary increase would come 12 months after they are rehired.
  • Evening-shift differential would be reduced from 7% to 5% or $1.25, whichever is greater. Night-shift differential would be reduced from 12.5% to 10% or $2.25 an hour, whichever is greater.
  • Salaried employees would no longer be subject to the contract language of Article 19.10, which addresses shift curtailment and cancellation.
  • The night-shift differential for medical laboratory scientists, medical laboratory technicians and respiratory care practitioners would be reduced from 15.5% to 12%.
  • The night-shift differential for pharmacy technicians would be reduced from 20.5% to 15% and for pharmacists it would be reduced from 20.5% to 12%. The 5.5% weekend day shift differential for pharmacy technicians and pharmacists would be eliminated.
  • Patient account representatives 1 and 2 and patient account coordinators 1 and 2 who certified as Certified Revenue Cycle Specialists will receive a 5% differential. This proposal adds classifications to those who are eligible for this certification differential.

These proposals would obviously reduce the earning power of the average AFSCME-represented employee. Keep in mind, management has readily admitted that they are in good financial shape, so these proposed pay cuts are not being made out of economic necessity.

RETIREMENT & HEALTH INSURANCE

  •  A voluntary retirement incentive would be available to employees who are at least a .5 FTE and agree to an effective retirement date of no later than December 31.* The retiring employee could choose one of four options:
  1. A deposit of $20,000 into a health retirement account
  2. Twelve months of continuing medical coverage under COBRA at the current contribution level
  3. Two months of base pay, with a maximum of $20,000, prorated based on FTE
  4. One month base pay, not to exceed $10,000, prorated by FTE and six months continuing coverage under COBRA.

*Note: Management is considering additional eligibility requirements in order to qualify for this benefit.

This is another measure intended to reduce labor costs. More senior employees are higher in the pay range; those who retire would be replaced with new hires or by promoted employees who would earn wages closer to the lower end of the pay range.

  • Relief employees would be eligible for insurance coverage if they work a minimum of 520 hours during a six-month measurement period.

VACATION

  • The vacation accrual rate for salaried employees in their first ten years of service would be 15 days per year. For employees in their first 5 years of service this is an increase of 3 days per years; for all others it represents no change.

MISCELLANEOUS

  • OHSU would create a new CNA scholarship program so that CNA1s can become eligible for CNA 2 positions.
  • Cardiac cath lab technologists and radiation therapists would no longer be eligible for bonuses for providing “back up” assistance to their department.

Do you sense a theme with OHSU’s economic proposals? Your feedback and questions are very important to us all the time, but especially during bargaining. Please comment here as well as “like” our page on Facebook to let us know your thoughts.

Union’s Economic Proposals To OHSU

If bargaining were a track-and-field event, it would more resemble a marathon than a sprint. Actually, bargaining is more like a decathlon, because there are so many moving pieces.

The OHSU email sent around on Friday has generated a lot of buzz and discussion. Economic issues are perhaps the biggest challenge in bargaining a new contract. The economic proposals introduced last week will not be dealt with for several weeks, however.  There are many other key issues important to members and your bargaining team is making progress on them in the immediate future. But we think it’s important to share with you the economic proposals that AFSCME Local 328 is proposing to OHSU. In the future, we’ll offer side-by-side comparisons of the OHSU and AFSCME Local 328 proposals, to help explain the differences.

OHSU is a world-class institution and we believe strongly that to recruit and retain the best workers, it must be a market leader, rather than a follower. OHSU is in a strong financial position in part because of the excellent work of AFSCME Local 328 members; OHSU has said as much in its own email. We understand that workers should be compensated and rewarded for the tremendous contribution they make to OHSU’s success.

We’ll be taking a close look at OHSU’s proposals and listening to feedback from our members.  We’ll have comprehensive response when we return to the economic-proposals phase of bargaining.

In order to lead the market, we’ve presented the following to OHSU:

MAJOR ECONOMIC ISSUES

WAGES

  • Wages — four-year agreement with across-the-board increases as follows:
    • July 2015 – 3.5%
    • July 2016 – 3.5%July 2017 – 3.25%
    • July 2018 – 3.25%
  • Market-based adjustments –- benchmark OHSU wages against comparables at the 66th percentile instead of the 50th percentile — lead the market instead of following it
  • Salaried employees – minimum 3% anniversary increase

VACATION & HOLIDAYS

  • Paid holidays for relief employees
  •  Increase vacation for hourly employees to:
    • 15 days 1st through 5th year
    • 17 days after 5th year through 10th year
    • 19 days after 10th year through 15th year
    • No change above 15 years
  • Establish a new vacation-accrual rate for salaried employees:
    • 19 days 1st through 10th year
    • 21 days after 10th year through 20th year
    • 24 days after 20th year

HEALTH INSURANCE

  • Increase premium payment by OHSU to 95%, up from 88%, for full time, and to 85%, up from 75%, for part time

RETIREMENT

  • PERS –- continue transition plan until ratification, then pay current PERS employees 6% of their annual wage as lump-sum payment to end the transition (we may consider how to fold this into our counterproposal to OHSU’s UPP proposal in a way that brings more equity)

OTHER ECONOMIC ISSUES (in order of appearance in the contract)

  1. Union-president leave — do not count bargaining time against the contractually allowed union-president leave.
  2. The employer to hire a work-modification specialist in the AA/EEO department to develop accommodation requests and assist with injured-worker placement.
  3. Contracting out — redefine to include workers who lose their jobs as a result of partnerships, mergers and acquisitions; they would then be eligible for the enhanced severance package available to contracted-out workers.
  4. Clarify the minimum time off between scheduled shifts — we are not trying to change the economic benefit, just trying to make it more understandable
  5. Red-lining — employees who are downwardly reclassified, or whose pay scales are reduced due to market conditions, shall be red-lined and suffer no loss of pay.
  6. Meal or meal card worth $9 to be provided when the employee works two hours or more of overtime and was first notified of the overtime on the same day as the overtime.
  7. Add weekend day-shift differential for all workers at the rate of 5.5% of their hourly wage.
  8. Preceptor differential of $2 per hour.
  9. CMA differentials of $2 per hour for duties that require special training.
  10. Pharmacists –150% of full day’s pay for each extra shift worked above their normal full-time work week,  prorated for partial shifts.
  11. Urgent leave — 8 hours to be taken in as little as 1-hour increments for urgent life events that are not covered by sick leave; e.g., broken plumbing, day-care problems.
  12. Active-duty military leave subsidy — provide the difference between military earnings and OHSU wages for OHSU employees deployed on active duty.
  13. Tuition discounts — we are proposing language to restore the prepayment instead of the current reimbursement model.
  14. Education and training  — all employees must be trained in basic computer use and email use.
  15. Parking:
    1. Rate freeze — no increases during the term of the agreement.
    2. Extend night-shift grace period to 12 noon instead of 10:00 a.m.
    3. Parking-fee waiver for the first pay period in December for bargaining-unit employees.
  16. Increase funding for the Labor Management Committee and CWE Center.
  17. COBRA — in areas where COBRA funding is provided to employees, the union is proposing that the employee be given the choice between COBRA and the cash equivalent
  18. Community Pipeline — The union is proposing establishing a program of prequalifying community members for selected AFSCME positions. They would become eligible for these positions by receiving training from our community partners and working with a proposed additional staff person in the CWE Center. Positions would become available AFTER all the internal job bidding and hiring was complete but before regular external hiring commenced
  19. Parking resale — the union proposed that OHSU develop a way for employees who have paid for parking to sell unused parking days back to OHSU so that OHSU may resell those days when the employee will not be on campus.

As you can see, there is a lot for OHSU to respond to, and an opportunity for the union to look at OHSU’s proposals as well, before responding. We’d love to hear your comments on the blog, and on our Facebook page.

 

4/16 Bargaining Session — One Agreement, More Work

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!

4/9 Bargaining Session — Email/Computer Access

Lack of Computer Access/Duty Time to Read Work Emails

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

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

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

Tentative Agreement on Proposals

We reached tentative agreement on several proposals, including:

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

Employee Performance and Contract Rights

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

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

Employee Resource Groups

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


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

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

4/2 Bargaining Session — Lots of Progress

Scheduling Issues

Today’s bargaining session began with the continuation of the scheduling discussion that began last week. We’re pleased to announce that we reached tentative agreements on all three articles that were on the table:

7.2 — Scheduling of Work: Current language will be maintained. There will be no change to the 28-day notice for schedule changes.

9.3 — Change in Reporting Time: Managers will maintain a list of volunteers who are willing to waive the usual notice required for a change in start time. Existing language would be followed if no volunteers are available. This is the only change to current language.

19.10 — Shift Curtailment and Cancelation: Managers will accept volunteers to have their shifts curtailed or canceled before mandatory curtailment/cancelation is assigned. Curtailment/cancelation will take place according to the current order outlined in the contract, with the exception that the assignment in inverse order of seniority will happen on a rotating basis (in 12-hour increments). The least senior employee will take mandatory curtailment/cancelation until he/she has taken/reached a cap of 12 hours of curtailment/cancellation, at which time the employee will go to the end of the list; the next time mandatory curtailment/cancelation is needed, the next employee with the least seniority will be the one assigned. Only mandatory curtailed/canceled hours will count toward the existing annual 120-hour maximum; however, if an employee reaches the 120-hour maximum, he/she may still volunteer to take a shift curtailment/cancelation.

Days Off for Part-Time Employees

The next topic discussed was the issue of part-time employees who in some cases are required to work several weeks in a row without a day off. The tentative agreement reached states that part-time employees will not be scheduled to work more than eight consecutive days; they can be required to work another consecutive two days if there is an emergency as defined in Article 9.1.4.h. After working eight or ten consecutive days, the employee must be given at least one calendar day off. If, after this one day off, the employee works another eight consecutive days, the employee must be given two consecutive calendar days off. Note: it is not the intent that part-time employees should regularly be scheduled for eight days in a row.

Flexible Start Times

The next topic discussed was flexible start times. Many employees take public transportation, so their commute times depend on the TriMet bus schedule. In many cases, this means employees must choose between arriving at work very early and waiting around for their start time or arriving just after their start time and getting disciplined for an attendance occurrence. Flexible start times may also be desired for other work/life balance reasons.

The tentative agreement reached is that Article 6.5 — Telecommuting will be rewritten to also include flexible start times. A resource document will be developed jointly and a process will be created for requesting a flexible start time. If an employee requests a flexible start time and the supervisor agrees, the change would be implemented. If there is not mutual agreement, then the matter can be referred to a Human Resources/AFSCME committee that will review the request and attempt to problem-solve and make recommendations/suggestions to the parties involved.

Other Discussion/Agreements

The day ended with a discussion of the inability of many employees to read work-related emails and important OHSU communications because (a) their workload does not leave them any time to check email during the work day or (b) they have no ready access to a computer in their work area. There was not time to discuss potential solutions, so the topic will be picked up next Thursday.

In addition to the agreements on the work/life balance issues, the teams also reached tentative agreements on non-substantive changes to Article 7.4 – Availability of Additional Work, Appendix C — Employee Benefits Council and Appendix F — Severance Program.

3/26 Bargaining Session — Work/Life Balance

Two issues dominated the discussion today, which ended up demonstrating distinct differences between the approaches of the union and management teams.

Food and Nutrition Mobile-Device Usage

Although the first issue only directly affects a few food-service workers, it highlights an issue of basic fairness and equal treatment for members, in the union’s opinion — or, from management’s perspective, of workplace policy being micromanaged by the union contract.

The story in this: Employees in the retail section of the Department of Food and Nutrition were prohibited from using cell phones or other electronic devices in any of OHSU’s cafeterias while on their breaks or lunch. No other employees face this prohibition. Further, most other employees have access to clean, private break rooms with good cell-phone reception, something the food-service employees lack. These employees filed a group grievance and, through a labor/management committee, reached an interim solution that allowed retail employees use their phones as long as they wore a jacket or some kind of outerwear to cover their uniform shirts. This really wasn’t satisfactory as a long-term solution because breaks are not generally long enough for members to go get their jackets, return to the cafeteria for their break and then return their jackets and get back to work on time.

The union team raised this issue at the bargaining table today and it developed into a discussion that quickly took on institution-wide implications. The union sees this as an issue of basic fairness — food-service retail employees who aren’t allowed to use their phones can sit side-by-side at a table with other uniformed employees who are allowed to use their phones. The OHSU team feels strongly that department policies governing employee behavior should not be part of the contract, and they did not want to create language that would dictate policy to departments not involved in this problem.

The agreement arrived at was to reconstitute a Food and Nutrition labor/management committee, consisting of three union members chosen by the union (including one paid union staff representative), and up to three management members to be chosen by OHSU. The committee will be co-facilitated by one union staff representative and one Human Resources representative. The union committee members will participate on paid time. If this committee doesn’t reach consensus on a solution to this issue by May 31, the issue will come back to the bargaining table.

Scheduling Issues

The second main topic of discussion at today’s session had to do with three scheduling issues raised by management. The articles in question are:

  • 7.2 — Scheduling of Work: the required 28-day notice for schedule changes
  • 9.3 — Change in Reporting Time: the contract rules regarding changes in start time
  • 19.10 — Shift Curtailment and Cancelation (cutting a shift short or canceling an entire shift): the method by which staff curtailments and shift cancelations happen

We worked through the stories and interests behind these three issues and made progress in formulating potential solutions. Unfortunately, we were unable to reach an agreement before our day concluded, so we’ll pick up the discussion as our first order of business next Thursday.

In keeping with our ground rules, we do not disclose specific statements made by the parties in our bargaining updates. However, it is important that we hear your thoughts about the importance of these three articles and how changes to them would affect you and your work/life balance — please be sure to leave your comments below.

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