Category Archives: Bargaining 2019

Unfair Labor Practice Complaint Filed Against OHSU

 

A copy of the unfair labor practice complaint against OHSU that we filed with the Oregon Employment Relations Board yesterday can be found HERE. This ULP is in relation to the social-media trolling activities of Patrick Frengle and Dan Forbes. We are requesting multiple, significant remedies. Please read the information in the ULP (the remedies can be found at the end of the PDF) and let us know if you have any questions.

As you can imagine, the last five days (has it only been five days?) have been hectic for our bargaining team and staff. We know our members are anxious for information about how recent developments will affect the actual negotiations process, so we wanted to publish this information for you as soon as possible. Stay tuned for additional communications about our awesome informational picket, links to press we’ve gotten this week,  member actions we have planned for next week (wear green on Monday!) and more. Solidarity!

What Exactly Happened & What OHSU Can Do Next

 

This has been a whirlwind of a week!

On Tuesday, August 6, employees were notified on OHSU Now that a member of OHSU’s bargaining team, Patrick Frengle, had behaved inappropriately, noting that this “…team member had been posting on AFSCME’s social media channels using several aliases — often referred to as ‘trolling.’” Mr. Frengle was removed from management’s bargaining team. The following evening, OHSU president Danny Jacobs issued a statement on OHSU Now regarding the resignation of OHSU’s vice president of Human Resources [Dan Forbes] related to “his role in this activity.” 

So what exactly happened here?

Mr. Frengle had created at least two fake Twitter account to troll our union with. (See our previous post for details.) One of his troll posts included a spreadsheet he had made, using false numbers, to artificially inflate the cost of Local 328 dues, and he appeared to be attempting to influence employees to drop their union membership. He also misrepresented, in multiple posts, our union’s positions re: wages and tiered contract language. During the course of monitoring Mr. Frengle’s troll accounts and documenting the connections to him, our team noticed that another suspicious Twitter account (“PeterPumpkinEater,” who was posing as a West Campus employee) had been interacting with his posts.

Our bargaining team believed that this other account was also linked to management’s bargaining team, so we began documenting social-media connections to the person we suspected was interacting with Mr. Frengle. “Peter” had liked many of Mr. Frengle’s anti-union troll posts and engaged in what appeared to be a coordinated back-and-forth discussion claiming that our union’s dues are regressive and harmful to lower-wage workers. On Monday, August 5, Local 328 staff called Dan Forbes to let him know of our concerns that a member of OHSU’s bargaining team had been trolling our union on Twitter. Mr. Forbes did not ask who we suspected of this behavior. During this phone call with Dan Forbes, the suspicious “Peter” account was deleted from Twitter. The following day, after Mr. Frengle had admitted responsibility for the trolling, we shared information about the “Peter” account with a member of OHSU’s administration. Dan Forbes’s resignation was announced the day after that.

Why is this so serious? 

As stated by Oregon AFSCME’s executive director Stacy Chamberlain, “…these actions, at best, demonstrate an utter lack of respect for the workers at OHSU and their union. At worst, it is an attempt to illegally interfere in the bargaining process. We are continuing our investigation into this matter and the scope of the trolling by the management bargaining team members. We will take ALL appropriate legal action to protect our members rights to bargain a fair contract!” Oregon AFSCME’s attorney has sent OHSU a litigation hold/preservation notice/stop destruction request, calling for an investigation and a cessation of the use of public resources in unfair labor practices.” 

Throughout AFSCME Local 328’s negotiations with OHSU, our members have expressed frustration about not being listened to by management and feeling disrespected by OHSU. The last few days have confirmed our bargaining team’s worst suspicions. We are deeply disappointed in OHSU, and have serious concerns about how trust can be restored moving forward. We are concerned about the integrity of the bargaining process thus far given the actions of these two men, especially considering Dan Forbes’s leadership position at OHSU and his significant role in our negotiations. Mr. Forbes is the person who sat across from our bargaining team explaining OHSU’s pay-equity proposals that would have punished our members for management’s mistakes. He is the person who stood in front of our members at OHSU’s bargaining forums trying to persuade us of the merits of OHSU’s PTO proposal. Dan Forbes is the person who would have had been the tie-breaker for benefits decisions that couldn’t be agreed upon by the Employee Benefits Council. He began attending our bargaining sessions back in April. Given his apparent animosity toward our union and his disrespect toward the bargaining process, how can our members have any confidence in OHSU’s integrity at the bargaining table since then (or even from the beginning)?

Dr. Jacobs’s message states that “OHSU remains committed to bargaining in good faith with integrity and transparency in the bargaining process.” Has OHSU even been bargaining in good faith? He also said that OHSU recognizes “we have work to do to regain your trust and are committed to moving forward with integrity” and that our employees are “our best asset.” OHSU’s actions over the coming days will let us know how sincere this sentiment is.

What steps can OHSU take to help regain the trust of our ~7,000 members?

  • Conduct a through investigation into this matter and prove to our members that the bargaining process has been fair. Are the figures that have been shared with our union and our members accurate? Have other members of management’s bargaining team engaged in similar behaviors? Were other members of OHSU’s team aware of the actions of Mr. Forbes and Mr. Frengle? Was anyone in management, on or off OHSU’s bargaining team, responsible for the blog comment discussed here? What is happening within upper management such that this sort of behavior is encouraged and participated in? 
  • Stop disabling comments on bargaining-related posts on OHSU Now. OHSU claims that “Labor laws and collective bargaining agreements place restrictions on how OHSU and the union communicate about contract negotiations, which are not conducive to an open forum like comments.” There is nothing in our collective-bargaining agreement that limits OHSU’s ability to host comments on the OHSU Now website, and members of our bargaining team have made repeated comments on OHSU Now letting OHSU know that our union has no concerns regarding such comments.
  • Restore the OHSU Now commenting rights of all employees who had these rights revoked as a result of having had their bargaining-related comments deleted. 
  • Rescind any formal coaching or discipline that may have been imposed on any member whose manager was contacted as a result of the member’s OHSU Now comments.
  • Make it clear to management at all levels that unfair labor practices — such as publicly disparaging our union’s dues structures in an attempt to reduce our members — will not be tolerated. 
  • Share credit with Local 328 on joint ventures. If OHSU truly values its relationship with AFSCME, it will begin formally recognizing our role in the Career & Workplace Enhancement Center, grant opportunities, etc. Our union’s final offer includes co-branding language that we hope OHSU will recognize the value of and agree to. 
  • Seek the input of employees at all levels of the organization and recognize that we can work together to improve OHSU and our community. Our union’s final offer includes language to form a community advisory board that would work toward those ends.
  • Listen to employees who’ve raised concerns about staffing levels at OHSU and work with us to ensure safe staffing. Our union’s final offer includes language to form a collaborative staffing task force.
  • Stop pushing union-busting contract proposals that would split our bargaining unit and weaken our union: no mandatory PTO for future hires, equal across-the-board wage increases for all members of our bargaining unit, etc. 

Local 328 hasn’t silenced people. Members of our bargaining team haven’t hidden behind fake names to troll OHSU on social media or share misinformation about OHSU’s bargaining positions. We haven’t played games — like floating outlandish proposals just to say later that we’ve made movement, or backtracking from our previous positions. Our message hasn’t changed since February: we’re here trying to negotiate a fair contract with OHSU for our bargaining unit. We want to work with management to help make OHSU the best place it can be, for employees and patients alike. 

OHSU: On Tuesday, August 13, let’s negotiate a fair contract that respects and rewards the sacrifices and hard work that Local 328 members provide OHSU every day. Enough is enough.

OHSU’s VP of Human Resources Has Resigned

 

Update: We’ve posted our response to this matter here.

The below statement was released on OHSU Now late Wednesday night. Local 328 will be sharing our own statement about this matter as soon as possible today.


Statement from President Jacobs

As follow up to yesterday’s post regarding the concerns raised about social media activity within the OHSU bargaining team, the vice president of Human Resource has resigned his position effective immediately. He will remain employed at OHSU until Nov. 1, 2019 to help facilitate a smooth transition of his responsibilities. He will not participate in any work related to labor contract negotiations. He has expressed his remorse for his role in this activity. 

I am very sorry. Our employees are truly our best asset. OHSU remains committed to bargaining in good faith with integrity and transparency in the bargaining process. We look forward to working collaboratively with the AFSCME bargaining team to finalize a contract that reflects our values and our mutual respect for our members.

Danny Jacobs, M.D., M.P.H., FACS
President

Respect for All?

 

We’d like to thank our members and other supporters for sharing and responding to our article about our management troll. As OHSU’s Twitter reply to us indicated, the person in question has been removed from OHSU’s bargaining team, and we’ve received confirmation that he has admitted responsibility. 

Our bargaining team is grateful for this, but we are concerned about how this person’s attitude toward our union and our bargaining positions may have influenced management’s discussions and decisions about negotiations. We also suspect that one other member of management’s bargaining team may have participated in the trolling to some degree. As such, our trust in OHSU’s ability to negotiate a fair contract with us has been severely tested. We are weighing our best course of action and expect to have more to share about this situation over the next couple of days. We’ll update our members with additional information as we can.

Our ~7,000 represented employees have been integral to OHSU’s success. We deserve a fair contract and we deserve respect. Looking outside our own bargaining unit, we believe that everyone who works at OHSU deserves respect. We believe that this incident reflects a systemic problem at OHSU. We urge OHSU’s executives to take this opportunity to reflect on what type of organization they want OHSU to be going forward. It’s time to right the ship, and OHSU can take the first step by negotiating a fair contract with AFSCME Local 328.

Management-Linked Trolls Target Union on Social Media

 

Update: Late Monday night (August 5), OHSU made the following reply to our tweet about this matter: ‘We’re deeply disappointed to learn about this inappropriate conduct on social media. We are sorry. We can confirm that this individual has been removed from our bargaining team, effective immediately, and is prohibited from participating in any future negotiations.“ We will share updates as they become available.


In late July, shortly after we declared impasse, a pair of trolls targeted AFSCME Local 328. At that time, we more or less ignored the tweets. Despite our suspicion about who appeared to be linked to the troll accounts, we chose not to discuss the matter publicly, so as not to detract from discussions about bargaining. However, the trolling has resumed late this week, on both our Facebook and Twitter pages. It now seems even clearer that our initial suspicions were right, and we feel we now have no choice but to let our members know. The troll accounts that are targeting our social-media pages are linked to a member of OHSU’s bargaining team.


On Monday, July 22, a Twitter account using the name “Aanus McFadden” started interacting with our account by asking a few questions. After some back and forth, Jesse Miller, who manages our Twitter page, recognized that “McFadden” was exhibiting some classic troll behavior. Jesse muted the account after directing them to better resources and thought that would be the end of it. As he usually does when he suspects a troll, Jesse glanced at their profile. The account’s activity on Twitter was also suspiciously troll-like. Jesse joked about “McFadden” with friends and coworkers, which prompted one of them to ask him to look a little more closely at the account. “McFadden” had only one follower — an account with the even more childish name of “Roy Vragina.” The “Roy” account also appeared suspicious and it also had only one follower: an account called “Frengle,” which used a profile photo of Patrick Frengle, who is a member of OHSU’s bargaining team.

The two accounts that are linked to Mr. Frengle were both created in October 2012 and interacted with each other in 2012. All three accounts — Frengle and the two trolls — follow journalist Nate Silver, house editor for The Cook Political Report Dave Wasserman, and comedian Sarah Silverman. All three have interacted with our union. The accounts’ low post counts, the fact that two of the three were created at the same time, the fact that they talked about the same topics at the same time (but have said little to nothing since) and the fact that that they followed the same three seemingly random people all point to the accounts being connected to the same person: Mr. Frengle.

It’s possible that this is all random, but how many coincidences does it take to conclude that there’s a pattern? There are more 200 million accounts on Twitter. What are the odds that there would be this many connections by random happenstance? If the accounts aren’t run by the same person, they’re almost certainly run by people who know each other outside of Twitter. If Patrick Frengle isn’t “Aanus McFadden” or “Roy Vragina,” they’re friends or associates of his. As we noted above, when we were first trolled by these accounts, we chose not to follow up on it with OHSU or to go public. Our bargaining team, staff and members like Jesse had enough on our plates, and we hoped the trolls would get bored. And they did, until Thursday, August 1, when we launched our meme contest on the Local Facebook page.

On August 1, these same two trolls shared memes on our Facebook page that misrepresented our union’s position on certain economic issues still on the table. Both of their Facebook profiles have strict privacy settings, but one of the few comments visible on the “McFadden” profile is from a woman whose hyphenated last name begins with Frengle. “McFadden” tweeted about our union frequently over the weekend, continuing to misrepresent Local 328’s bargaining positions. On Friday, August 2, they began following the Twitter accounts of members of our bargaining team and other Local 328 members. Over the course of the weekend, all three accounts have changed their user names and Twitter handles and made changes to their followers. The “McFadden” account has also shared a spreadsheet that misrepresents the costs of our union dues. (Did we mention that Mr. Frengle works in OHSU’s budget & financial planning department? He’s the person who prepared the spreadsheet that OHSU’s bargaining team presented when they rejected all of our economic proposals on May 19.) If we had any doubt in July that these trolls are connected to Mr. Frengle, we have no doubt now.


We know that both parties in these negotiations hope to persuade folks of the “rightness” of our positions and offers, and our communications will reflect that. However, many of our members (and non-AFSCME-represented employees!) have told us that they’ve found much of OHSU’s communications and messaging around bargaining to be manipulative and disrespectful. We’ve tried our best to take the high road about this, only responding to OHSU’s communications on two occasions when we felt that the spin had crossed a line into misinformation. We’ve also made two corrections on our blog, when an error or misunderstanding was pointed out to us by OHSU.

We maintain open commenting on our blog so that our members can share their thoughts about bargaining, even if they don’t agree with a position our union has taken, and we’ve held multiple forums where members can freely ask questions. In contrast, OHSU has taken away our members’ voices during negotiations — deleting critical comments on OHSU Now, banning some members outright and contacting employees’ managers. OHSU has used misplaced concerns about “direct dealing” during negotiations to keep comments closed on its bargaining-related posts. Then, when frustrated members ask questions on other posts, their comments are deleted for being off-topic.

Throughout our union’s negotiations with OHSU, our members have expressed frustration about not being listened to by management and feeling disrespected by OHSU. Our bargaining team has felt the same way. We’ve been bargaining in good faith and have been respectful to OHSU at the table, but we haven’t felt that same respect in return — we’ve faced questions that indicated OHSU’s team literally hadn’t listened to information we presented, unfamiliarity with the contract being negotiated and an employer that didn’t respect the bargaining process enough to have the actual decision-makers at the table (or even available) during late-stage mediation.

Our union isn’t silencing people. Members of our bargaining team aren’t hiding behind fake names to troll OHSU on social media or share misinformation about OHSU’s positions. We haven’t played games, like floating outlandish proposals just to say later that we’ve made movement or backtracking from previous positions. We’re here trying to negotiate a fair contract with OHSU for our bargaining unit. We want to work with management to help make OHSU the best place it can be, for employees and patients alike. We want OHSU to see that our members are assets to the organization.

What have we gotten for our efforts? Trolls linked to OHSU’s bargaining team sharing misinformation on our social-media pages and wasting the time of the member volunteers who have to clean up after them or write articles explaining to our members what’s going on. We have screenshots of the posts, tweets and social-media connections mentioned above, and on Monday, August 5, we reached out to Dan Forbes, OHSU’s vice president of Human Resources to share our concerns about Mr. Frengle. (During this very phone call, the Twitter profile of another questionable user who had been interacting with “McFadden” about our union went dark.)

We questioned whether we should go public about this matter (we don’t want to fan the flames when tensions are already high), but ultimately felt we had no choice. What do you think would happen to an AFSCME-represented employee who was behaving this way toward OHSU? This behavior is unacceptable, especially from those who are perceived as leaders at OHSU, and our members need to know what type of people have been at the table with us.

OHSU’s final-offer post on OHSU Now states that OHSU and AFSCME Local 328 have a long-standing and cooperative relationship. We hope OHSU finally shows that it actually does value this relationship, by investigating this matter and dealing with it appropriately and promptly.

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!