Category Archives: Bargaining 2019

Picket with Us for a Fair Contract

 

This week, our union will hold our first-ever informational picket! RSVP to our Facebook event or our Evite to let us know you’ll join us on Thursday, August 8, to fight for a fair contract!

Details

The picket is not a strike; rather, it’s a tool to show support for our union’s position at the bargaining table and to help make the public aware of our campaign for a fair contract. Here are the details:

  • Thursday, August 8, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m., starting at the Mac Hall lawn.
  • Speakers at 4:00 p.m.; picketing/march at 4:20 p.m.
  • Water and snacks will be provided.
  • Family, community members and supportive coworkers are encouraged to attend!
  • Picket signs and chant sheets will be provided.
  • Picket route: along SW Sam Jackson Park Rd, between the intersection of SW Veterans Hospital Rd and SW Gibbs St and the Kohler bus stop (or Shriners Hospital, depending on turnout).

This is a historic time for our union. It’s not an exaggeration to say that an effective picket will have an impact for years — on employees today and on those yet to be hired. We are fighting for a fair contract now and we are building power for our next contract negotiations. We are stronger together!

Why Should I Attend?

OHSU is watching. A strong turnout shows that our bargaining team has the broad support of our membership, and that our membership is not willing to settle for a substandard contract. By taking collective action, we command respect and will demonstrate that we’re united. There is no question that our member actions at the June rally and at the OHSU board meeting moved the needle and helped prevent health-insurance take-backs. This event will be a final push to encourage OHSU to make additional movement at the table, to reach agreement on a fair contract without having to resort to a strike. A successful, well-attended informational picket also sends a message to the public about how important our work is — that OHSU works because we do.

Do’s and Don’ts

Please remember that we will be representing our union on the picket line — we want to have a fun event that builds solitary and doesn’t threaten support for our contract efforts. Below are some guidelines that will help us have a safe and effective picket:

  • Do wear green!
  • Do take public transportation if possible.
  • Do be courteous and respectful — be mindful of patients, drivers, etc.
  • Do follow the directions of our picket captains.
  • Do participate in the chants.
  • Do march in two-by-two formation.
  • Do stay on the designated march route.
  • Do report any threats or suspicious activity.
  • Do clean up after each other.
  • Do have fun!
  • Don’t block the access of emergency vehicles or others.
  • Don’t block parking structure/lot entrances.
  • Don’t make noise in the designated quiet zones.
  • Don’t use profanity.
  • Don’t intimidate anyone or make threats.
  • Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or use cannabis on the picket line.
  • Don’t argue with anyone — direct them to union staff or officers.
  • Don’t litter or damage property.
  • Don’t get overheated (it’ll be ~80 degrees) — let us know if you start feeling unwell.

What If I Don’t Work on Campus?

We understand that our members who work off campus and around the state want to participate in collective actions too! Although the picket was planned for this time and location to maximize visibility and impact to OHSU, there are still ways to show support if you’re unable to attend. Wear green the day of the picket. Decorate your work area (if allowed) with union stickers or signs. Have a potluck together on Thursday or go to lunch with your AFSCME coworkers. Take selfies and post them to our Facebook page!

Meme Contest Has Begun

 

Bargaining is a stressful time — this year in particular. Our team has turned to humor to get through some of our long bargaining sessions. With that in mind, we wanted to turn to our member’s creativity to participate in our meme contest! The picket signs folks made last month were amazing, and we have no doubt the memes will be, too. Making a meme yourself is very simple. Many of you already have a favorite meme-generating app, but there are two free options for those who don’t: MS Paint and PS Express.

We’ve selected five blank slates for memes and are asking our members to use them to create their funniest meme(s) about OHSU bargaining. We will collect the best memes and share them on social media, with some being featured on signs at our informational picket on August 8. Remember, we’re asking folks to be funny, not rude or mean, and remember OHSU’s Code of Conduct.


Instructions:

  1. Select your meme template here.
  2. Create your meme using one of the two methods below or your favorite meme generator.
    • MS Paint: This comes installed on almost every Windows PC. All you need to do is download the blank meme and use the Text tool to add your message to the image. Just add your text in the color, font and at the size you need. (You can change the text color so it stands out from the background.
    • PS Express: If you want to make your meme on your phone, this app is safe and easy to use — it’s available on the iOS, Android and Windows app stores. Simply save the blank meme image to your phone, open it in PS Express and scroll over to the Text option in the edit options at the bottom of the screen. Next, select the Text option you think works best and add your text.
  3. Save your image and email it to <AFSCMemes at gmail dot com> to submit it for the contest!

If you’d like instructions with screenshots for the above methods, just let us know and we’ll send you a PDF.

Final Offers!

 

Side-by-Side Comparison of Final Offers

Below is a comparison of the main proposals from AFSCME’s and OHSU’s final offers, which were submitted to our mediator on Monday, July 29.

Issue AFSCME OHSU Comments
Length of contract 3 years 5 years OHSU reverted back to its earlier position re: contract length.
Tiered language No OHSU is still proposing splitting our unit with tiered language (PTO, across-the-board increases, one-time-payment) This is a non-starter. Contract tiers are a way for employers to divide and conquer a workforce. OHSU added additional tiered language from their supposal position.
Across-the-board wage increases 10.5% over 3 years (3.5% increase each year, for all employees) 14.1% over 5 years for employees making $22/hr or less (2.82% average increase per year); 13.1%  over 5 years for all others (2.62% average increase per year) Both teams made some movement. OHSU reverted back to its earlier position re: tiered wage increases. As we’ve said before, 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.”
Inflation/CPI protection No Possible additional wage increase for eligible impacted employees; would not be triggered until 2022 This would be applied if overall wage increases (across-the-board and step increases) for AFSCME-represented employees have not kept up with inflation.
One-time payment No (AFSCME previously withdrew our proposal for a 1% lump-sum payment) $500 for up to 0.49 FTE; $1,000 for 0.5-1.0 FTE; $1,200 for employees making $57.69-$86.53/hr;
$1,500 for employees making $86.54/hr or more
OHSU has introduced another proposal where employees would receive different benefits based on their hourly wage (after previously rejecting our proposed percentage-based lump-sum payment. OHSU’s cost summary indicates this proposal would cost almost $7.7 million — Our position is that these funds would better serve our employees in the form of higher across-the-board wage increases for all. We’re also unclear how a higher one-time payment to the highest-paid members of our bargaining-unit meshes with OHSU’s stated goal to help lower-wage workers.
PTO No Optional for current employees, mandatory for new employees The majority of our members have said “no PTO” — even on an optional basis — for two years. A different proposal for new employees is unacceptable.
Vacation 1 additional day for all employees hired after 9/11/98 1 additional day for 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 Year 1: 3%; Year 2: 5%; Year 3: 7% No Weekend shifts are hard to fill and our workers end up working overtime to cover these shifts.
Preceptor pay 5% No We were heartened when OHSU previously appeared to willing to recognize the preceptor work done by our employees. OHSU has reverted back to its previous position, however, declining to offer a preceptor differential.
Float differential 3% (~1 range higher) for NRM Ancillary float pool, Ambulatory Care Operations float pool, and clinical depts. w/ a designated float No Prior to negotiations, HR had requested we bring this to the bargaining table. We remain perplexed that OHSU has made no movement here.
TriMet passes $50/year $50/year AFSCME agreed to this OHSU proposal on July 2. This is great for our members!
Hardship fund $100,000/year dedicated needs-based funds for lower-wage workers, to be administered by AFSCME Average $100,000/year funds to assist w/ housing, food insecurity or transportation, to be administered by AFSCME We look forward to creating this program to help our members in need!
Wage increases retro to 7/1 Yes No We believe that a retro payment of the across-the-board increases is the fair option for our members.
Term of agreement No change to current language (economic provisions take effect the first full pay period after ratification) Delay effective date of economic provisions to after two full pay periods after ratification AFSCME is opposed to introducing contract language that would delay the effective date of pay increases, changes to differentials, etc. for this and future contracts.
Appendix A (salaried employees)
Progression increases Yes Yes Salaried employees will receive the same progression increases as hourly employees. This is fantastic!
Meal and rest periods Yes No We believe that all employees should be able to take rest periods for their own well-being and 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.
Community advisory board Yes No Our proposal has little associated cost. There currently is no venue for all OHSU constituents (all of whom have endorsed the advisory board or expressed interest in participating) to discuss ways to improve our workplace and our community.
Staffing task force Yes No; OHSU has instead proposed to arrange twice-yearly meetings between Local 328 and OHSU leadership Our proposal has little associated cost. Departments are so short staffed that patient care is often delayed. Short staffing also causes employee burn-out. We don’t understand OHSU’s unwillingness to more frequently address its staffing issues.

Remaining Sticking Points

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. We’re stronger together, and we want a contract that’s fair and equitable for all of the employees we represent.

As individual employees, we all have issues that are important to us, and may be interested in contract language that will most benefit us personally. We ask that our members consider the two final offers in terms of which one would benefit the greatest number of our represented employees, and consider what future contract negotiations would look like if our bargaining unit were split into smaller subsets of employees who aren’t all advocating for the same thing.

Tiered language can result in resentment between the two groups of employees who receive different benefits and wages based on hourly wage or hire date. Many contracts ago, a past bargaining team accepted language that allowed for lower vacation accruals for employees hired after 9/11/98. The tiered accrual language still comes up as a source of hard feelings to this day. It’s partly because of this instance of tiered contract language that our union is so opposed now to introducing tiers in other areas of the contract. (The current bargaining team is attempting to make the accruals more equitable for both sets of employees by proposing an additional vacation day for all employees who are accruing at the lower rate.)

Tiered language also weakens a union’s ability to negotiate fair contracts — employees who have different benefits are unlikely to advocate for one another in the same way that a unified bargaining unit would. 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. If we agreed to optional PTO for current employees and mandatory PTO for new employees, during the next contract negotiations (when OHSU will almost certainly take another shot), we won’t have enough member support to fight mandatory PTO for everyone. Employees with PTO are unlikely to withhold their labor or be willing to give up other contract language so that other employees can keep the VAC/SIK system they prefer. Mandatory PTO for new employees now likely means mandatory PTO for all employees in the future.

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 opposed to PTO (even on an optional basis). 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. Despite OHSU’s insistence that PTO will offer flexibility to our members, 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. Under a PTO/EIB model, there will 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, even though OHSU is now offering five days of PTO to offset the 40-hour requirement to access one’s EIB. This will put patients (and coworkers) at risk of catching contagious illnesses from employees, and that’s not something we can support. Employees who rarely get ill or need to use sick time to care for sick children may benefit from PTO, but it doesn’t help the majority of our members.

Across-the-Board Wage Increases: In our July 19 supposal, Local 328 had asked for increases of 12.0% over three years (4.0% increase per year) and OHSU had asked for increases of 6.5% over three years (average increase of 2.17% per year). We decreased our request in order to move closer to OHSU’s position. In its final offer, OHSU has reintroduced language proposing a higher across-the-board increase for lower-wage employees (now for those making $22.00/hour or less) — but only for the first year of a long contract. Local 328 continues to believe that higher increases are a better way to help lower-wage workers — that’s why our final offer proposes increases of 3.5% per year, for everyone. The wage increases in OHSU’s final offer will average 2.82% for lower-wage workers and only 2.62% for others. This simply isn’t in line with the realities of living in the Portland metro area.

What’s Next?

Local 328’s bargaining team is dedicated to ensuring wages that adequately support the costs of living and working in this area, treating future employees as fairly as current employees, protecting a time-off system that doesn’t encourage employees to come to work sick and keeping our bargaining unit strong for the future.

We’ve said since the beginning, repeatedly, that we hope to reach a fair settlement with OHSU at the bargaining table, and that a strike is an option of last resort, and that hasn’t changed. OHSU’s final-offer post on OHSU Now suggested that you should “encourage your union to get back to the bargaining table by voting ‘no’ on a strike.” Our union is getting back to the bargaining table — on August 13 and 30, as we’ve noted previously and as OHSU’s itself indicated yesterday.

OHSU’s suggestion also misrepresents what our scheduled strike-authorization vote means. A “yes” vote means that a member is willing to strike, but it doesn’t mean our union will automatically go on strike. Instead, it will mean that our bargaining team is authorized to call for a strike if necessary to move OHSU toward a more fair contract. If we have strike authorization but are able to make movement at the table, we’ll remain focused on reaching an agreement at the table. The term “final offer” is defined by statute, and the fact that both teams have submitted final offers doesn’t mean that one offer needs to be decided upon immediately, or that additional movement won’t still be made during mediation.

In the meantime, it’s important that our members take a stand now. We need to come together with allies, community partners, elected officials and our union family and make our voices heard! In a little over a week, 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. Our represented employees deserve better, and OHSU can do better. 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!

Join Us–and a Very Special Guest–on the Picket Line!

 

Join us at our informational picket on Marquam Hill on Thursday, August 8, from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m., as we defend our OHSU, an institution focused on caring for our patients, supporting our research and education missions and bettering our community, not on feathering the nests of wealthy executives. Friends, coworkers, neighbors and family members are welcome! RSVP here.

We’re very excited to announce that Lee Saunders, president of the AFSCME International union, will be coming out from Washington, DC, to join us at the picket!

This event is so important to our campaign for a fair contract — it will be our members’ best opportunity, short of a strike, to show OHSU our strength. OHSU works because we do. Join us!

Clarification re: Impasse, Looking Ahead

 

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!

Mediation Update: July 19 — Impasse Declared

 

Our bargaining team started the day by developing a comprehensive package supposal, which we presented to the management team at approximately 11:00 a.m. During this presentation, we let OHSU’s representatives know that we were willing to declare impasse if the following were included in their response to our supposal:

  • PTO
  • Health-insurance take-backs
  • Tiered language that would pit employees against one another (i.e., different benefits and wage increases for employees based on hourly salary or hire date).

In the late afternoon, OHSU presented a supposal that did not meet the above criteria. After extended discussion about the ramifications, the Local 328 bargaining team declared impasse at 6:15 p.m.

What happens next? On Tuesday, July 23, our team will meet to develop and cost our last, best, final offer on economic proposals. This offer will need to be presented to OHSU by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, July 29. At that point the mandatory 30-day cooling-off period will begin. Additional mediation with the OHSU team will be scheduled to take place soon after the start of the cooling-off period.

For more than six months, AFSCME Local 328 has conducted surveys, visited worksites, hosted town halls and listened to our members’ feedback — our bargaining team took that to heart, and we tried our best to negotiate a fair contract at the table. We know what’s at stake, so we didn’t settle for a substandard contract. We understand that OHSU’s proposed take-backs will hurt our represented employees and families. We know that a fair contract will help our members give the best care to OHSU’s patients and the best support to OHSU’s research and academic missions. We’re disappointed that OHSU’s executive decision-makers didn’t recognize that.

Now more than ever, we need EVERYONE to come together to fight for a fair contract. It’s imperative that our members participate in the following events:

  • Informational Picket
    • Thursday, August 8, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m., Mac Hall lawn
    • Family, friends and non-AFSCME-represented coworkers are invited to attend! Snacks and water will be provided. RSVP here.
  • Strike-Info Town Hall
    • Wednesday, August 14, 12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m., UHS 8B60
    • Get information about the voting process, strike preparation and next steps. Sign up to help us get out the vote!
  • Strike-Authorization Vote
    • Monday, August 19, through Thursday, August 29
    • Voting will take place online as well as in-person on Marquam Hill and various off-site locations.

Someone You Should Know…

 

Some of you may have noticed that you can earn points for “engaging with the content“ on OHSU Now — sharing articles to social media, posting comments that are liked by other employees, etc. (To share an article, just click the little share arrow at the bottom right of the post.) The three employees who earn the most points each month win a prize from OHSU.

Our members may wish to share the current OHSU Now post recognizing Lawrence Furnstahl as a “CFO to know.” We agree that OHSU’s chief financial officer is someone you should know — he is responsible for OHSU’s financial and operational management.

If you choose to share this post, you may want to let folks know that, based on management’s contract proposals, OHSU’s CFO and finance executives seem to:

  • Want workers to risk patient safety and employee health by coming to work sick (PTO proposal).
  • Want you and your family to pay more for your health care in a time of record profits (multiple health-insurance take-backs).
  • Be willing to risk patient safety by keeping the hospital understaffed (rejected Local 328’s proposed staffing task force).

What’s Happening with Bargaining?

 

As you’re likely aware, the Local 328 bargaining team recently put in 44 hours over three days of mediation, including a marathon session of 16 hours on June 28. Even so, these sessions didn’t result in an agreement. So, our bargaining team will go back into mediation with OHSU on July 19 and 23. As we go into our next mediation sessions, our union’s bargaining team is wholly committed to utilizing every possible option to get the best contract possible for our members.

Since our contract expired on June 30 and there’s been a gap between mediation days, some members are asking: Why aren’t we picketing yet? Why haven’t we voted for a strike yet? What’s taking so long? There are a number of reasons for this, but the most important one is this: the stakes are far too high to rush this process. This year is the best chance our union has ever had to get a good contract with no take-backs, for a number of reasons:

    • Our Members: It’s not an exaggeration to say that our members are more engaged than we’ve ever seen. In the post-Janus environment, union members across the country, including at OHSU, have seen what they stand to lose without a strong union. Many of us are struggling due to the economic reality of living in the Portland metro area today, and we’re not willing (or able) to accept financial take-backs from an employer that enjoys record profits year after year. Our members know what’s at stake with these negotiations.
    • Our Bargaining Team: It’s also not an exaggeration to say that our 2019 bargaining team is the most well-trained, most engaged team our union has had, due in part to a number of changes our union made for these negotiations. We changed the makeup of our bargaining team, going from a combination of sector and at-large reps to an all at-large team. We greatly expanded the role of member leaders in the negotiation and communication processes. We started training our team four months before bargaining began. We changed the negotiation style being used, going from interest-based to traditional bargaining.
    • OHSU: Our employer has a new president and a greater focus on growth, expansion and profit. More than ever before, OHSU has made it clear that it cares about little else other than its faculty and its bottom line — the employees who help the faculty and institution succeed seem to be an afterthought at best. The current culture at OHSU has created employees who have had enough and are willing to fight for a fair contract.

Between our rally at Mac Hall, our action at the OHSU board of directors meeting and our surprise picket at the Oregon AFSCME office, Local 328 members have shown the strength of collective action, and OHSU is keenly aware of our members’ engagement level.

Why Aren’t We Picketing Yet?: We are planning to hold an informational picket in early August. Why not sooner? Because it’s extremely important that we get the picket right. A rushed, poorly planned event with only a few hundred members in attendance won’t help us get a fair contract. An organized, well-planned picket with thousands in attendance, including community members and political allies, takes time to arrange. Our informational picket will be done right, and planning is underway. Please save the date of Thursday, August 8.

Why Haven’t We Had a Strike-Authorization Vote Yet?: This spring, thousands of members took our bargaining survey and indicated support for a strike. Our members should be aware, however, that our union requires more than just a majority of votes to authorize a strike — we must reach a certain threshold of voters for the vote to be valid, in order to ensure that enough members would support a strike. For example, if we held a vote in which 95% of the voters authorized a strike, but only 1,000 of our 5,000-plus members had voted, we would not go on strike. Simply stated, if a majority of our members won’t participate in a vote, it’s unlikely they would withhold their labor in large enough numbers for a strike to be effective. A successful strike-authorization vote will require broad outreach and communications, with bargaining-team members, stewards, AFSCME staff representatives, unit stewards and rank-and-file members actively working to get the word out. Although planning is taking place, as long as our union is still actively negotiating, our bargaining team must stay focused on the task of getting our members a fair contract at the table. If it becomes clear that we’ll be unable to reach an agreement with OHSU at the table, our union will hold a strike-authorization vote beginning on Monday, August 19, and will direct 100% of our attention and effort toward ensuring a successful vote. In the meantime, our members can help by talking about bargaining with coworkers and other AFSCME-represented employees, especially those who haven’t been paying as much attention to the process.

What’s Taking So Long?: Again, we’re still in mediation. We’re not at impasse. We don’t yet know what OHSU’s bottom line is. Our goal has always been to get our members a fair contract with no take-backs and that remains our goal, so we’ll participate in mediation as long as we’re seeing progress toward that goal. A lot of the mediation process involves confidential “supposals” that can indicate where the parties might be willing to move, as well as packaged proposals that can indicate what the parties’ priorities are. Although it might not seem like it from the outside, movement is being made (albeit slowly), so it makes sense to continue with mediation at this time. There’s too much at stake to rush the process. In the event that impasse is declared, we’re legally required to then wait a minimum of 37 days (for final offers/costing and a cooling-off period) before we can strike. This is a marathon, not a sprint — it could be days, weeks or even months before we get to the finish line. In the meantime, please join us on Tuesday, July 16, at one of our drop-in sessions or at our town hall.

Our members’ ongoing support and engagement is greatly appreciated by our team and has been so valuable to the bargaining process. We are stronger together!

SOLIDARITY.