We were scheduled to bargain last Wednesday, October 15th, but after we presented the $15 an hour minimum wage proposal on October 1, management informed us they were very interested in the idea but they would need time to figure out the details and if agreed upon, how it might be implemented. Consequently, they asked that we cancel bargaining on the 15th and set our sights on the next scheduled session, November 5. But just in case they were ready before that, we would hold October 29th as a tentative bargaining date.
Earlier this week we announced a contract bargaining rally for Wednesday the 29th. Later that day management contacted us and said they would be ready to meet with us on the 29th. In order for the rally to have the intended impact, we have moved the rally to Tuesday, October 28th from 4:30 – 6:00 in front of the Multnomah Building.
Here’s is a recap of the gains we have made in bargaining to this point:
- An upward pay adjustment can be made to an employee’s wage in order to resolve a pay inequity within a work unit or department. If there is more than one upward pay adjustment in the same classification within a 12-month period, management will initiate a compensation study for that classification.
- The county will provide the union with a monthly report of hours worked by on-call workers, and the union’s maintenance of membership language will be added, so an employee’s union membership must be maintained through the life of the contract.
- When management is going to fill a temporary vacancy, the supervisor and the recruiter must first determine whether it is appropriate to be offered as a work out of class opportunity/ temporary appointment.
- The list of essential employee positions will include the rationale for determining what duties are essential when inclement weather causes the county to be declared closed.
- Employees who are absent without pay for more than 30 consecutive days on an FMLA or OFLA condition will not lose seniority.
- The 5 most senior employees who are interested in a transfer are guaranteed an interview.
- Trainee positions can be created for difficult-to-fill positions, or to develop employees’ knowledge, skills and abilities. Upon successful completion of the trainee period the employee is eligible to be promoted into the classification.
- The Recognizance unit in DCJ will have days of rest (for overtime purposes) calculated consistent with how the Sheriff’s Office calculates it.
- Employees in School-based programs will not lose seniority during the annual summer layoff, they will maintain health care benefits during the annual summer layoff and their previous lateral transfer language will be added back to the contract.
One of the most important developments was management withdrawing its proposal that would have allowed them to move the county over to a state-wide insurance plan (PEBB or OEBB) at any time during the life of the contract. We will open up health care bargaining in 2016, and the issue may come up at that point, but for the next two years our current health care standards will remain in effect.
The most significant issues left on the table are financial. Our latest proposal on COLA asks for a COLA of 2.0 for the first 5 months (retroactive to July 1), and COLA of 3.7% for the last 7 months, which would come out to 2.7% for the year (making it budget neutral for the county) but in year 2 the COLA would be compounded by the extra 1%. In years 2 and 3 we asked for a COLA of the Consumer Price Index plus .5% (one-half percent) for each year. Our initial proposal was for an additional 1% for each of the three years, but as we expected, it has been extremely difficult to get any traction on this. Even our current position with the reduced COLA premium is very challenging, and that’s why we need our members to turn out for the rally on October 28th and show management we all stand behind this proposal.
The other financial piece is the $15 an hour minimum wage. 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. The team saw this as a way to help our lowest-earning members, some of whom earn so little they are eligible for food stamps and other public assistance. This proposal is much more appealing to the elected officials than the COLA premium, and even if we can not get the extra COLA, we would win a financial gain for those who are most in need.
When we go into bargaining on Wednesday we expect management to present some proposal for implementing the $15 an hour. Anything beyond that is unknown, and there may be no good news for us on our COLA proposal. Whatever the offer, the team will work through it and bring back the best contract we can get for our members.
As always, thank you for your patience and your support as we’ve worked through this lengthy process.