I am pleased to announce the Local 88 tentative agreement with Multnomah County passed with a 94% approval in this week’s vote. Facing challenging weather conditions, many Local 88 members visited ballot box sites to vote on ratification of the tentative agreement reached with Multnomah County leadership for a three year contract.
There were ballot boxes available at various sites and times on Thursday & Friday with sites open as early as 7:15 a.m. and as late as 7:00 p.m. Many members braved freezing rain to get to a voting site on Thursday during the day or on their way home. Friday voting was a bit easier including ballot boxes at the Central Library and Multnomah Building which were available all day.
Our ballot box volunteers did an outstanding job to get to the voting sites, even in East County where the weather took a nasty turn. I am truly grateful for their dedication to the union member’s right to vote. At the end of the day Friday beginning at 6:30 p.m. our Election Committee Chair Gary Sinnen and co-chair Tom Newsom worked with other volunteers to see the ballots verified and counted, reporting the approval of ratification to me at about 7:30 p.m.
It is difficult to offer special thanks to any one person in this effort as so many put so much heart into making this negotiation fruitful.
As our union staff representative on the county’s joint labor and management Employee Benefit Advisory Team (EBAT), Issa Simpson was essential to the bargaining team regarding our Health Care benefit language, understanding the statewide insurance pools of the Oregon Employee Benefit Board (OEBB) and Public Employee Benefit Board (PEBB) and what management’s health care proposals meant. Simpson’s extensive knowledge of healthcare in general and our contract language in particular was critical to keeping our bargaining position strong and moving management off their proposal to take away our voice in determining our health care providers.
Lead negotiator Bryan Lally kept the bargaining team focused and was skillful in managing expectations and how to bargain at the table as well as in caucus with each other. The members of the bargaining team worked together well, representing their department constituents, even when disagreeing with each other over positions or language. At the very beginning of this process the team worked to determine what articles to open and what proposals would be put on the table using the survey taken last spring and member input from the Member Action Team site visits and emails. We took the responsibility very seriously and came prepared with our ideas, research and desire to reach a strong contract for all members. Moving off of original proposal language took serious debate and only when at least 6 out of 9 bargaining team members (2/3rds) agreed on changing a position was language then adopted for the table. The most difficult decision was to move off of the COLA + 1% however management made it extremely clear they would not move off the CPI only amount.
I have been told over and over how glad members were to see a $15 minimum wage added to the contract and I am proud of the AFSCME Local 88 membership for voting to support this position and the bargaining team for proposing this in our negotiation. When management came back to the table with their $15 hr counter proposal that included phasing out the Library Page classification and creating a new position, Access Services Assistant, our team was ready with an ad-hoc committee of Library Staff Rep Issa Simpson, Chief Steward Nicole Newsom, library bargaining team member Shandra Baur, L88 Vice President Jason Heilbrun and a few Library members. This committee did hours of work to get the proposal language as member friendly as possible and keep the power of the contract in our hands. Simpson also arranged site visits with Heilbrun and Newsom to bring the proposed changes to many Library staff, to educate them and learn of the concerns we will have to address as we move through this process.
Member Action Team (MAT) Captains took our bargaining messages to and from the members in the work sites and encouraged the site actions which kept folks involved and supportive of the bargaining team and proposals on the table. I am extremely am proud of the work these MAT Captains have done, many who have not had much active contact with the Local.
Moving forward we must wait for the Board of County Commissioners to vote on county approval of the contract as written. There will be no regular board meetings Nov 20 & 27. The next regular board meeting is Dec 4 and we expect this contract vote to be on that agenda. With the presumption of a yes vote by the board the next step will be for an update to the payroll system. I have been told not to expect the retro COLA pay until January. If that information changes I will communicate the information a.s.a.p.
Thank you to the Local 88 membership for your attention and involvement in our contract but more importantly, Thank You for the hard work you do every day supporting the community we serve and supporting each other. Our Work Matters!
President, Local 88