Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Local 88 held a contract rally at the Multnomah building on Tuesday October 28 with members and community partners who turned out to support the bargaining team and the contact proposals on the table, including a 2014 COLA proposal that would not cost the county budget any more in FY15 but allow us to begin next year with an additional 1%.
We also had support for the proposed $15 per hour minimum wage, to be phased in over three years with the groups $15 Now Pdx, Jobs with Justice and the Overpass Light Brigade coming to march and chant with our union members.
The bargaining team met with management on Wednesday October 29 to bargain. It was extremely challenging to find out leadership did not make any counter proposal on the COLA language. Their offer remains the 2.7% retroactive back to July 1,2014. I have personally written to and spoken to the commissioners and expressed how upsetting that proposal is, especially after we presented leadership with over 1,500 petition cards asking for the COLA Plus and moving our position to reduce the year two and three figures.
The bargaining team knew from the outset that getting anything above the CPI was shooting at the moon and hoping for a hit but we fought for the additional wage because we did the right thing taking those freezes. I have received emails from members who think the $15 minimum wage took the COLA proposal away from us. This is incorrect as we spent months fighting for the COLA Plus with no success before the $15 minimum wage was put on the table. The reality is that the $15 minimum wage was the financial increase the county was willing to agree to. To ignore that would mean we were leaving money on the table.
For those who don’t know, the Local 88 membership voted at their June 18, 2014 general membership meeting to support a $15 Portland minimum wage. Our bargaining proposal was a direct reflection of our commitment to a living wage for all Oregonians, including our Local 88 members, a number of which actually qualify for public assistance. Management did take the historic step of returning to the table to bargain our $15 an hour minimum wage proposal. Bargaining lasted until 7 p.m. with no tentative agreement as there are technical details still to be discussed on the minimum wage.
The bargaining team is scheduled to meet again on Wednesday, November 5, and we will continue working on this and other language in an attempt to finish bargaining on that day.If we conclude bargaining on November 5th we will then work to schedule the ballot box vote for contract ratification. This will not happen overnight but I will see it is expedited and concluded as soon as legally possible. If we do not conclude bargaining on Wednesday there will be an update on this website with our next steps or options.
Thank you for your time and attention and all the support you have given the bargaining team.
President, AFSCME Local 88