Up Against The Wall At OHSU

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By Dennis Ziemer, Local 328 Staff

The Food and Nutrition department at OHSU employs more than 300 employees; nearly 100 of them are involved in preparing, transporting and serving meals to patients. The job doesn’t end there — these employees have the task of making sure that sanitation is held to the highest standards. The safety of OHSU’s patients is a top priority, but lately the Food and Nutrition employees have had concerns about their own safety.

If employees are concerned about possible contamination or safety issues in the dishwashing operation, for example, the matter is brought to the attention of Food & Nutrition management. Employees can usually do so without fear of disciplinary action — or a physical reaction from the supervisor — because being attentive to safety is part of the job. At least that’s what the employees thought.

Recently, a cargo container has been repurposed as a temporary dishwashing unit and is being used during a remodel of the dish room in the hospital. Along with frequent breakdowns of the “dishwasher,” Food and Nutrition staff have found large amounts of mold and mildew in the area where dishes are cleaned and clean dish trays pass through. Management has closed down the cargo-container dishwashing unit more than once and redirected the cleaning of dishes and trays to other facilities on campus. Each time, the container was to be cleaned and reopened as soon as possible.

The temporary dishwashing unit has raised other safety concerns with employees. Without rain gear or other water-protection garments, the employees could not enter the container without getting drenched by errant sprayers, but OHSU does not provide rain garments to these employees. Food and Nutrition employees frequently had to wear wet clothing throughout the workday if they were assigned to dishwashing.

December 8, 2016, was an icy and snowy day. Food and Nutrition  workers asked what they were going to do about the dishes during this inclement weather, since the makeshift dishwashing unit is outside. Acting as the lead staff person, John Kusluch told them that the supervisor’s plan was for them to take the dishes to other dishwashing facilities on campus, which would mean lots of extra work hauling dishes. After John told the staff this, a supervisor for Patient Food Service came out of his office to correct the statement to say that it was not his idea, but his manager’s.

John apologized to him, telling him that other supervisors had told him that it was this supervisor’s idea. The supervisor then accused John of spreading rumors and told John again that it wasn’t his plan. The supervisor walked away, but a minute later returned to John, put both of his hands on John’s shoulders and dragged John towards a wall about a foot away. After this, the supervisor started waving his finger in front of John’s face, in what appeared to be threatening manner, reiterating that it wasn’t his idea.

Since this event, Local 328 has filed a grievance and OHSU has investigated the matter. Our union and HR met during step 1 in the grievance process, but no response has been received at this time according to union staff representative Dennis Ziemer. HR interviewed several employees who witnessed this event, including other supervisors who were also concerned about the physical actions by John’s supervisor. HR determined that the physical reaction by the supervisor was an inappropriate action, but since it didn’t appear to be retaliatory it didn’t warrant removing the supervisor during the investigation. It also appears that because John maintained his balance, wasn’t knocked down or visibly hurt or, incredibly enough, isn’t female, the supervisor who became physical with John will keep his job and will maintain his authority over the same staff who witnessed his inappropriate actions.

Since this event, John and other Food and Nutrition staff don’t feel safe coming to work. An additional grievance has have been filed by our union, addressing concerns about the safety of these employees and the patients they serve.

How Safe Is OHSU?

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How Safe Is OHSU?

Almost everyone would agree that employees deserve a safe workplace, but there are always questions about how to define “safety” and problems in how to achieve it.

Local 328 has been surveying our members since 2000. Early on, we found that one of our members’ top priorities has always been workplace safety. We have to admit — that puzzled us. There are always accidents, exposures and ergonomic issues that arise in any workplace; however, these problems were not common and were mostly addressed effectively by OHSU.

It wasn’t until our union took a deeper look in a later survey that we learned that what members were talking about was emotional safety. We tried to respond to that with solutions addressing workplace conflict and hostile work environments — programs like BridgeBuilders and the Career and Workplace Enhancement Center (which has conflict resolution programs/training as one of its focus areas).

It has become clear to us, though, that while our previous efforts were well intentioned and effective as far as their stated goals, the problems our union should have been trying to solve were far larger.

Race and Class at OHSU

These are going to be difficult paragraphs to write, because when discussing the impacts of race and class at OHSU, the finger we point needs to point inward as well as outward.

It is clear, in hindsight, after last year’s EVS campaign and after more recent incidents on campus, that we as a union need to do better at effectively drawing attention to and resolving incidents of marginalization, discrimination and racism directed at our members and sometimes, sadly, by our members. We have allowed ourselves to fall into the trap of privileging the experiences of the dominant white culture over the experiences of people of color and other underrepresented employees — people who have not been silent, but whose voices also have not been heard.

When we finally learn to listen, do we then fall into the trap of paternalism and passivity, of assuming that we know the best path to follow, of selectively filtering what we hear? Of subtly discounting experiences that are unfamiliar to us and of congratulating ourselves for our own good intentions? Of telling people who are in pain what we can or cannot do for them without asking them what we should be doing in concert with them?

Yes. Yes we do.

Good Intentions, Doing Better

Our union has good intentions — intentions to pursue a path of equity, racial and economic justice and basic fairness for all our members. We also know that we fall short of those goals.

We believe that at the highest levels of the organization, OHSU shares those goals. And we know that, as most organizations do, OHSU falls short of those goals — sometime subtly, sometimes spectacularly.

Over the next few weeks, Local 328 is going to talk about some negative experiences our members have had at OHSU — experiences that place in bold relief the differences that race, ethnicity, disability, religion, sexual and gender identification,  and economic and educational status make in how employees are perceived and treated and how those differences seem to operate within the very OHSU systems designed to protect employees from those injustices. How employees who make money appear to be privileged over employees who cost money and how the acts of employees in authority are minimized while far less egregious acts by rank-and-file workers result in terminations for cause.

We need to do better. Our union needs to open the doors of problem solving and engagement to all our members, especially members who are subjected to aggression, discrimination and microaggressions every day. We can’t solve this problem without you — in fact, “we” aren’t “we” without you. Our union needs more of us at the table — if necessary, we will build a bigger table.

OHSU needs to do better. It needs to listen to its employees and listen to our union when we talk about injustice faced by our members. OHSU needs to worry less about being exposed to lawsuits and protecting the revenue generators and more about living up to the ideals that an institution dedicated to the public’s well-being must embody, not just pay lip service to.

Our union will work with anyone who wants to help us become a better union and with anyone who wants to help bring transformative change to OHSU — including OHSU.

Vote “Yes on Measure 97” to Support Oregon Schools

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Vote “Yes on Measure 97” to Support Oregon Schools
by Nana Nash, AFSCME Local 328 Member

REQUIRE BIG CORPORATIONS PAY NOW OR OREGONIANS WILL SURELY PAY LATER

Measure 97 is a ballot measure that would raise the minimum corporate tax a corporation pays when it makes more than $25 million in Oregon sales. It will not affect regular citizens — it only taxes big business.

Stop Corporate Welfare This should be our slogan in Oregon. Oregon is 50th in the nation for corporate taxes on companies that gross more than $25 million annually — in Oregon, these businesses pay lower taxes than anywhere else in the country. These corporations should be held to a higher standard and pay their fair share.

Oregon now has a boom-and-bust tax system that relies most heavily on income taxes to fund state services — this means that one main source of tax dollars funds a wide array of necessary services and programs. Oregon currently has the fourth worst high-school graduation rate in the country, barely improved over recent years. The state faces a roughly $2 billion funding gap for education alone. Oregonians should care because we’ve been paying some of the highest income taxes in the country while the largest corporations have paid very little in corporate taxes.

If Measure 97, passes it will not cost you money — it will not cost Oregonians $600 each, as the attack ads claim. This measure will not cost anything extra out of pocket to 99.9% of Oregon residents. According to the Anderson Economic Group, Oregon is last in corporate taxes . With the passage of Measure 97, Oregon would still have some of the lowest corporate taxes on the west coast (including Idaho).

Why Do Corporations Care? The short answer is: they don’t. Why are large corporations like Comcast, Wells Fargo and Chevron investing millions of dollars in advertising to fight the passage of Measure 97?

For many years, these large companies have not paid proportionally to what local mom-and-pop businesses pay to do business here in Oregon. Small businesses in Oregon support Measure 97 because they currently pay a higher percentage of tax than the large corporations. Corporations with gross sales in Oregon of more than $25 million know they would be less competitive if they raised their prices after Measure 97 passed. The “invisible hand” of the market would not allow them to pass on the cost of paying these taxes to the consumer. Prices are driven by market and competition more than by a one-to-one relationship with costs.

If these companies could just pass these costs onto Oregon consumers, why would they care whether Measure 97 passes or not? They certainly aren’t looking out for us. They’re looking out for themselves — that’s why they’re spending $20 million to fight the measure. If corporations could just charge us more, they’d already be charging more.

No, Measure 97 Will Not Increase Taxes for Mom-and-Pop Businesses Less than 1% of businesses in Oregon will see their corporate taxes go up. That’s because the only part of Oregon’s tax structure that is changing is the part that applies to corporations making more than $25 million in Oregon sales. Similarly, only publicly traded C-corporations are subject to the change. Measure 97 excludes the majority of mom-and-pop businesses — In fact, it evens the playing field for businesses struggling to compete with large, out-of-state corporations.

What About the Claims That Measure 97 Is a Backdoor Sales Tax for Consumers? With Measure 97 resulting in such a narrowly targeted minimum increase, the affected corporations will still need to stay competitive with the smaller businesses that are already paying their fair share in corporate taxes. Also, studies have shown that corporate taxes don’t directly drive consumer prices as much as other market factors do. Many of the corporations that would be affected by Measure 97 do business up and down the west coast and across the country and set their prices at regional market rates. Prices in Washington, where corporations already pay much more in state and local taxes than they do in Oregon, aren’t really any higher than prices in Oregon.

The Oregon Consumer League did a shopping-cart study, researching the cost of goods in states with higher corporate taxes than Oregon:

“The cost of staples that people buy every day like cereal, diapers, duct tape and Legos is remarkably consistent across the country. Whether you live in Florida, Maine, Texas, North Dakota, California, or Oregon — pretty much anywhere in the continental United States — a trip to the store for the basics is going to cost about the same. Chicken at Fred Meyer, for example, is $3.99 per pound in Vancouver, WA, $3.99 per pound in Portland, OR and $3.99 per pound in Boise, ID even though corporate taxes are very different in each state.”

What About Health Care? Opponents of Measure 97 hope to frighten voters in order to avoid being taxed on the high profits being earned in the for-profit health-care sector. Lots of health-care providers and insurers in Oregon — including Kaiser, Providence and Adventist—are nonprofits, and their taxes won’t be affected by Measure 97. These companies will be happy that the state can insure more people through the Oregon Health Plan and invest in public-health measures.

As for prescriptions, pharmaceutical companies that would be affected by Measure 97 make only one-fifth of 1% of their total annual sales in Oregon. A corporate-tax increase here would just slightly reduce their global profits. High-earning corporations in every industry should be contributing their fair share to Oregon’s public programs that provide in-home care to seniors and people living with disabilities.

What About Schools and Other Services? As a direct result of funding cuts due to plummeting corporate tax revenues, Oregon schools now have the third largest class sizes in the country and the fourth worst graduation rate, with a school year two weeks shorter than the minimum in many other states. If Measure 97 passes, we’ll be able to restore per-pupil spending to the level of the late 1980s (adjusted for inflation), and get back into the mainstream. We’ll be able to provide a much-needed expansion to state programs for in-home senior care, allowing seniors to remain in their own homes. We’ll be able to replace federal Medicaid dollars that were only available to kick-start our health programs in Oregon.

What Will Happen If Measure 97 Fails? Oregon faces a huge budget shortfall of about $1.35 billion. If Measure 97 fails, essential services will be strapped and cuts will be necessary. Oregon public schools, Medicaid and programs for seniors will be negatively affected. If Oregonians don’t pass Measure 97 to make corporations pay their fair share now, we will all pay later.

What Groups and Organizations Are Supporting Measure 97? Measure 97 is supported by AFSCME, AFL-CIO, Oregon Education Association, Oregon Nurses Association, SEIU, Governor Kate Brown, League of Women Voters, Citizens Initiative Review Commission and many others. These are progressive organizations that spend the most direct time working with the people and communities who need this measure the most. This coalition of supporters sees the need for large corporations to take a role in building a better Oregon.

If Measure 97 passes, it will be because AFSCME members and folks in the community got involved. The big corporations that are against this measure are using fear tactics to keep Oregonians from taking care of the people in our communities that need us the most. Our education system and our seniors need us, and we need the businesses that profit from us to help build a better Oregon.

What Can I Do to Help Get Measure 97 Passed? AFSCME is conducting a get-out-the-vote effort to support Measure 97 with door knocking and phone banking to make sure our members have gotten their ballots in the mail or have a plan to turn them in. Door- knocking events will only involve talking to supporters of the measure to remind them to vote. Ballots have already been mailed to voters and we need volunteers now. For information on dates and times, call (503) 239-9858 ext. 4147, visit Oregon AFSCME on Facebook or check out the Oregon AFSCME online events calendar.

 CLICK THE LINKS IN THIS ARTICLE FOR SOURCES AND OTHER INFORMATION ABOUT MEASURE

Need Vacation? Don’t Become An OHSU Pharmacist.

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Pharmacists have been quietly filing grievances for months over the inability to get vacation on a first come, first served basis when requesting time off for unfilled vacation slots.

For those not familiar with the AFSCME/OHSU contract, management must identify at the beginning of the year the number of opportunities available for vacation time on any given day throughout the year. Those vacations “slots” that aren’t used during the vacation bid in February of each year are available, by contract, on a first come, first served basis for the rest of the year.

Due to chronic understaffing OHSU Pharmacy management has been consistently refusing to honor vacation requests made by pharmacists for time which is contractually available. As a result, employees are having to resort to shift trades and schedule changes to get time off. The lack of vacation availability is taking a toll. Combined with large amounts of extra shifts and overtime to fill shifts left vacant due to unfilled staff positions pharmacists are feeling overworked and under appreciated.

Many current pharmacists believe that these working conditions are leading to staff turnover, fatigue and low morale. As the grievances which have been filed move to arbitration pharmacists might begin to get some relief when arbitrators start enforcing the union contract, but it’s a long process. In the meantime pharmacists are meeting with union representatives to work on strategies to bring about a more immediate resolution.

As Joe Ness, Vice President for Professional and Support Services, said in a recent meeting: “I don’t care how much money you earn in your job, if your vacation is denied, it’s a morale buster.”

It’s time for OHSU Pharmacy management to take these issues seriously and work with the union to resolve these issues.

Unit Steward Program Is One Year Old!

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This month marks the one-year anniversary of Local 328’s unit-steward program.

Our goal upon starting our union’s unit-steward program was to have at least one steward in every work unit. We have been building the program over the past year and, while we haven’t quite met our goal, we’ve made great progress! OHSU has close to 500 work units — our union is up to the challenge of ensuring that each one of them has a steward.

Unit stewards serve as information specialists for our membership and a resource hub for the work units. We train our unit stewards on how to establish good two-way communication between members and our union’s leadership. Unit stewards are also trained on how to direct members to resources that Local 328 provides, including how to connect with stewards who can assist members during investigations and grievances. Unit stewards also act as the face of our union, greeting each new member to the work unit.

If your work unit doesn’t have a unit steward, we strongly encourage you and your coworkers to select someone so that you have good, up-to-date information about the fun and important things that are happening in our union.

If you are interested in becoming a unit steward or would just like more information on the program, please email Local 328 staff representative Kate Baker at kbaker@oregonafscme.org.

Diagnostic Imaging Techs Gain CNI Agreement

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CNI in Diagnostic Imaging
By AFSCME Staff Representative Dennis Ziemer

Discussion of CNI – Critical Need Incentive – discussions of implementing a CNI started with the Techs in General Radiology during the fall of 2015.

CNI is Critical Need Incentive. It is often used when a staffing level starts to show signs of too much work and a dwindling pool of staff to do that work. It requires two basic ingredients to work:

1. People who can fill-in extra hours/shifts and
2. Extra pay to encourage others to do the work while giving others the option to leave for the day.

In November, 2015 union members and staff representative Dennis Ziemer met with management every few months to describe the staffing crisis. Many staff were just giving up on the idea of any relief. Many decided to just not have a life outside of work, and others started to consider working somewhere that was staffed appropriately.

In May, 2016 the problem got worse when a proposed CNI was roundly rejected by Techs as unusable.

Without CNI as an option, everyone is subject to a last-minute assignment of mandatory overtime.

Mandatory overtime is a difficult thing to encounter when you are at work. It is even harder to adjust to when you are a young parent, have others who depend on you, have a pet to take care of, or basically have a life outside your job.

Picture yourself having to make alternative arrangements for those responsibilities because you are told you must stay for another 4 hours. Now multiply that situation by the number of days you work in a year, while your boss attempts to resolve the “perfect storm” that has outraged you and the angered 50 of your colleagues.

As the summer of 2016 approached there didn’t appear to be any work toward a new draft of CNI.

Several staff took it upon themselves to create the much needed CNI plan. Megan Evans and Meghan Thomas and several GenRad Techs were responsible for creating and then describing the proposal to the Director of Diagnostic Imaging, Brad Reed. Brad initially thought it hit the mark, meaning it appeared to have exactly what would be needed to get approved by OHSU.

The amount of money for assigned shifts was not what was originally sought, but it was sufficient in the eyes of the Diagnostic Imaging Techs. Ultimately AFSCME and OHSU agreed to $12 per hour as the CNI. The plan was endorsed by OHSU. In fact, the plan was applied to all Imaging Modalities: General Radiology, Mammography, CT, MRI, Ultrasound, Vascular Ultrasound, Nuclear Medicine and PET.

The Techs in all these operations unanimously approved the document. AFSCME 328 Executive Board in turn unanimously approved the Letter of Agreement on CNI for Diagnostic Imaging at their September meeting and returned it to OHSU for implementation. Local 328 President Matt Hilton signed the document.

A few bumps occurred in the implementation process but the Techs report that they are now receiving the CNI.

Summer Celebration — AFSCME Strong BBQ

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It’s been a whirlwind year for Local 328.  Join us at the Mac Hall Fountain on Wednesday, July 13, from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. to celebrate with a BBQ lunch. (Food is guaranteed for the first 500 attendees, so don’t wait till the last minute to arrive.)

So, what are we celebrating?

Last summer, our union made a commitment to fight off anti-worker, anti-union efforts in the courts and on the ballot, nationally and at home here in Oregon. The cornerstone of that effort is our AFSCME Strong campaign. The point of the campaign is to solidify our membership so that we maintain a strong union despite the attempts of corporate-sponsored groups to attack our right to collect dues and fair-share fees.

With the assistance of AFSCME International, in January we had a successful weekend blitz where we visited fair-share fee payers and converted more than 250 of them to dues payers.

We embarked on an organizing campaign to create and grow a unit-steward program that would assist us with workplace organizing and help convert existing dues payers to maintenance-of-membership dues payers. To date we have trained and deployed more than 100 unit stewards and are proud to say that in this group of people are some of the smartest, most engaged people we have ever worked with. As they grow with our union, many of them will inevitably move into leadership positions.

Our union is in good hands, now and in the future.

Challenges met.

Our members successfully organized around the plight of Environmental Services (EVS) workers at OHSU. Over the course of last winter and into this spring, were able to work with OHSU to achieve significant changes in the EVS department that will benefit the employees for years to come.

With the untimely death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the U.S. Supreme Court deadlocked over the Friedrichs case and let stand a lower court’s decision that affirmed the right of unions to collect fair-share fees. Similar cases are in the pipeline and, inevitably, some of them will make their way to the court after Scalia’s successor is confirmed. The people behind these cases have deep pockets and have been attacking unions for decades. They aren’t quitting any time soon, but the temporary reprieve was welcome and allowed us to focus on preparing for the ballot-measure fight to come.

We were aware of two anti-union measures being circulated that would have had even more devastating effects on public-employee unions than the Supreme Court case. One was being circulated by groups funded by the timber industry and the other by Loren Parks from Nevada. We have been fighting measures like these for years and have developed expertise in fighting them in the courts and through election turnout. This year, the Oregon Supreme Court sided with labor and agreed with the ballot titles assigned by the Secretary of State. These titles did not poll favorably for the measures and one of them was withdrawn. The other is still technically “out there,” but there is no active signature-gathering taking place.

Going back to the days of Bill Sizemore, Oregon has not had an election cycle without an anti-union measure on the ballot. This year may be an exception, but next year and the year after that will not be.

Our future is bright.

We have a lot to celebrate.

  • We have made huge progress toward securing our union’s future against anti-worker attacks that will no doubt continue to challenge us.
  • We have engaged 100 new activists.
  • We have a plan to fight off anti-union attacks and are executing it successfully.

Thank you for being a part of it. Come and celebrate our union with us!

EVS Independent Investigation Results.

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On Monday, June 20th, EVS employees at OHSU received a joint communication from AFSCME and OHSU advising that the independent investigator appointed to look into issues of employee abuse at the OHSU Environmental Services department had completed her work and issued a report.

The report was a comprehensive review of the charges made by AFSCME Local 328 regarding the working conditions of EVS employees, based on in depth interviews with approximately 30 EVS workers.

This independent investigation is unprecedented for OHSU and Local 328 and is a direct result of our members standing up for themselves with on the job actions, their willingness to share their stories publically on social media and in person and their willingness to support each other.

When our Union began this process we had three demands:

  • An independent investigation
  • An effective labor management process where workers can be heard and have their issues addressed
  • A reform of the internal complaint process when workers are victimized by managers or coworkers.

The independent investigation has been completed and a report issued.

The report outlines findings in nine areas where the investigator found evidence to support our union’s claims:

  1. Cultural insensitivity and bias in the workplace
  2. Disrespectful behavior down, up and across the workgroup
  3. Perceived favoritism
  4. Roles, duties and expectations not clear or standardized
  5. Lack of accountability
  6. Operational practices cause lost productivity and waste
  7. Staffing issues
  8. Perceived inconsistent application or disregard of rules
  9. Not enough transparency and communication

Each finding was accompanied by a list of recommendations. OHSU and AFSCME Local 328 have scheduled a series of meetings to review and plan to implement the recommendations. As we implement recommendations we will report to our members on our progress.

The labor/management committee (LMC) is active in Environmental Services.

A facilitator has been hired and the teams for labor and management have been selected. The goal of labor/management meetings are to raise and resolve issues other than contract violations or interpersonal problems – in other words, to look at workplace problems that often get overlooked because communication between workers and management has broken down. Initial meetings of the labor management committee have been effective.  The two teams have already brainstormed a list of potential issues and plan to prioritize them at their next meeting.  Additionally EVS management will begin introducing  LMC representatives at EVS huddles.

The reform of the internal complaint process has not been resolved at this time.

The investigator made some recommendations about the way complaints should be reported but did not make recommendations about changing the complaint process itself. This is an area where we will need to have ongoing discussions before we can report that it has been resolved.

So what does it all mean; what have we learned?

We learned that an active membership raising public awareness of a problem can be a spur to action. We learned that OHSU will respond when presented with compelling evidence. We learned that the best way to get OHSU to respond is for workers to stand together and take the risk of telling their stories about how they are affected by their working conditions.

We’ve learned that OHSU is willing and able to take corrective action AND work in collaboration with the union to make changes when called upon, including personnel changes, when necessary.

We’ve learned that workers really are stronger together.

We want to thank our stewards and leaders, especially Chief Steward Michael Stewart and President Matt Hilton, the members who put their names out publically on social media to tell their stories, the EVS workers who had the courage to meet with the investigator, our members from all over campus who wrote messages of support, wore buttons and attended our vigils, the EVS workers who broke tradition and began speaking out in the morning huddles, the members who were inspired during this time to step up and become unit stewards to help their coworkers, the nurses who wore buttons and supported our EVS workers and everyone else who was touched by the stories of our workers and who didn’t turn a blind eye.

Thank you.

Better Know a Board Member: President Matt Hilton

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Our union’s communications committee is launching a new series of profiles of all of our board members. Our goal is to interview them about OHSU, our union and their life in an effort to help our members get to know our leaders a bit better. First up for this task, Matt Hilton.

Matt works in ITG as a call-center representative. Prior to becoming president of Local 328, he held positions on our union’s political-action committee and executive board. Matt lives in SW Portland with his wife Jamie.

What made you want to work at OHSU?
My strong desire for food and housing.

What is the best part of your job?
I speak with a variety of people every day, and there’s always something new popping up. This is also the least stressful job I’ve ever worked.

What is something you want to change about OHSU?
Every contract shouldn’t be viewed as an opportunity for take-backs. That and some sort of profit-sharing system should be introduced. If we can give bonuses to management, what’s good for the goose, is good for the gander.

How did you get involved in the union?
A coworker encouraged me to become a steward right after my probationary period was up.

What has been your most powerful experience within our union? Leading a rally/press conference/ city-hall sit-in in Detroit, protesting Governor Rick Snyder, for a national AFSCME Next Wave conference was a great experience. I’m also very proud of the settlement we got last contract.

What does a successful next contract look like to you?
Something that’s going to put more money in people’s pockets. Something that will help offset the insane rise in the cost of living here.

Favorite place to grab a bite in Portland?
2:00 a.m. food-cart food can’t be beat.

Favorite beer/drink?
Dark liquor and rocks, or good old fashioned PBR.

Favorite place to hike, swim or generally have fun in Portland?
The Portland rose garden in Washington Park is a gem, and also where I asked my wife to marry me.

If you could eat dinner with one historical figure, who would it be and why?
Hunter S. Thompson, because the conversation wouldn’t be dull.

Most embarrassing fact about yourself that you are willing to share?
During the 2012 AFSCME International convention in Los Angeles, I was passionately trying to convince a homeless man to vote for AFSCME presidential candidate Danny Donahue — until he asked if he could by some meth from me. Then I realized he wasn’t a convention delegate, and that I’d probably imbibed too much at a Next Wave event earlier that evening.

EVS Update

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Some of you may remember the independent investigation that was to happen in the Environmental Services Department (EVS). If not, here’s some background. Back in November 2015, AFSCME began an employee-abuse awareness campaign. For far too long, employees went to OHSU Human Resources, OHSU’s Affirmative Action office, OHSU’s Integrity office and even our union without seeing real change. Our union’s campaign was quickly noticed by HR, OHSU’s legal team and management. We were asked to meet with OHSU representatives and attempt to solve some of the problems the EVS employees were facing.

Local 328 pushed for an independent investigation of the situation and OHSU agreed. Both parties interviewed investigators and Cathryn Dammel was selected to investigate the EVS situation. Since Ms. Dammel was unfamiliar to our members, we wanted a few minutes with each employee to reassure them that they should be very open and honest with her; OHSU agreed.

I do not believe that OHSU thought too much about how it was going to schedule more than 30 hour-long interviews. The EVS employees are not a group of folks that you can simply send an Outlook appointment to—many of them do not use computers. In addition, English is not the first language for the majority of the employees who would be interviewed. Many of them work on the second and third shifts. OHSU gave Local 328 less than 24 hours’ notice of the interview schedules for the employees. We reached out to our stewards for help — even on such short notice, Local 328 steward and board member Bernie Delaney offered to meet almost every employee prior to his/her meeting with the investigator.

The interviews started on March 29—one employee was interviewed that day. On the second day of interviews, only half of the scheduled employees showed up — the others did not because they were not working that day or were unaware that they had been scheduled for an interview. On March 31, OHSU realized that it could not get our members to the interviews without our help. Local 328 steward and board member Debbie Brock Talarsky and staff representative Ross Grami went to work — they spent all of the following day reaching out to the affected members to ensure that the following week of interviews was set. Debbie and another union steward, Johanna Colgrove, escorted almost all of the rest of our folks to their interviews.

This process could not have happened without the dedication of our stewards, Ross and — especially — all of the EVS employees who found the courage to speak up once again about the abuse, this time in hopes that OHSU listens.

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