In bargaining on October 1, management presented us with an offer that withdrew their health care proposal. That proposal would have given the county the right, during the life of the contract, to move our health care over to one of the state-wide insurance pools. We strongly opposed this for a number of reasons, and were very glad that the county was willing to move off its position.
The remainder of their proposal was unchanged; it called for a 2.7% COLA for this year, retroactive to July 1, and in the second and third years a COLA of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) with a minimum of 1% and a maximum of 4%. Our team went into caucus to discuss their proposal and after a great deal of discussion we put together a response that showed some movement on our part. First, we moved our position of a CPI guaranteed minimum of 2% to a maximum of 4% to their proposal of a CPI guaranteed minimum of 1% and a maximum of 4%.
For contract year 1 we dropped our COLA premium of 1% to a proposed COLA of 2.0% for the first 5 months of this year (July through November) then increasing to 3.7% for the remainder of the year. The intent is to be budget neutral to the county this year, meaning it wouldn’t cost the county any more than what they have already budgeted, but in July of next year the COLA increase would be based on a wage increase of 3.7% instead of 2.7%.
Remember, IF this proposal is accepted and ratified you would see the retroactive 2% CPI amount as a lump sum in your pay and your ongoing hourly wage increased by 3.7% starting in December.
For years 2 and 3 we dropped our COLA premium from 1% per year to .5% per year. We recognize that getting anything above the CPI will be difficult, so a more modest position has a better chance of success.
Finally, we proposed that the minimum step one wage for job classifications below this, be increased to $15 an hour, phased in over 3 years. Some of the job classifications that have steps below $15 include Animal Care Aide, Cook, Library Page, Bridge Operator, OA 1 and Food Service Worker. We do have county employees who earn so little that they are on food stamps – there is no excuse for that and we need to change it.
The local 88 membership voted to support the $15 minimum wage at the June 18, 2014 General Membership meeting and this proposal is a direct reflection of our commitment to a living wage for all Oregonians, including our own Local 88 membership.