At Wednesday’s bargaining session the Local 88 team offered a proposal that offered some movement but stuck to our position on the highest priority issues. We are at the point in bargaining where we have to focus on the issues that affect the greatest number of people and are of the highest importance. With that in mind we decided to abandon our proposals on the following topics:
- option to cash-out 40 hours of vacation a year
- expansion of bereavement leave to cover aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews
- requirement that staff be put on a Monday-Friday day shift while serving jury duty
- giving employees the right to choose to accrue comp time in lieu of overtime pay
- access to a County-paid C-Tran Express pass
- flexibility on how to spend boot allowance (for those who are eligible to receive it)
- altering the vacation bid process for 24/7 staff in the Sheriff’s Office
- expanding the shift trade window in the Sheriff’s Office from 2 pay periods to 6 months
Our decision to move off these positions was not made lightly. We had to weigh the likelihood of getting these things against the total value of what we are asking for. For example, a County-paid C-Tran Express pass for every employee who lives in Vancouver would cost the County an additional $250,000. That reduces the amount of money available for getting a COLA above the CPI rate. Other things, like the employee right to choose comp time instead of cash for overtime, could probably not be won without trading away something significant. Since it was not a high priority among the membership, we felt that a big sacrifice was not justified.
The proposal we presented today continues to ask for a COLA equal to the CPI rate, plus 1%, for the next three years, with a COLA minimum of 2% and maximum of 5%. We are also asking for compensation studies on the Correction Tech, Facility Security Officer and Access Services classifications.
On health care we want to have a say in whether the County moves into one of the state-wide health care pools (PEBB or OEBB). Our current system for dealing with health care changes gives us much more control and provides benefits that we believe are better than what the state pools offer.
We are also still asking that bereavement leave be increased by two days in the case of the death of an employee’s spouse or child.
We have modified our position on essential employees. We initially asked for 3% premium pay for all hours worked when the County is declared closed due to weather. We are now asking that the County provide a written explanation of the essential duties required of each position that is designated essential. The idea is to limit who is labeled essential so that only the truly indispensable employees are called in when there is a weather event.
Finally, we are still proposing a change to the Sheriff’s Office addendum which would allow 24/7 staff to bid on their location, in addition to shift and days off.
We are getting down to brass tacks in the bargaining process and it will not be easy to successfully negotiate the things we are asking for. We are going to need your support. A petition to support bargaining will be distributed soon and when we have collected the cards they will be delivered to the County Chair. We have strength in numbers, and we’ll need our strength to win a good contract.