Over the past several months, our union has been working hard preparing for bargaining! Since last September, we have been building our bargaining delegation, our large committee that approved our goals and elected our bargaining team which is the group that meets with the County to negotiate a new union contract. We have developed these bargaining demands through extensive surveying of our members, 1-on-1 and group feedback from members, and through sharing stories of our common experiences over the past five years. The summary identified below comprise what we believe is reasonable and equitable for our membership as well as our shared values and needs.
Here is a complete list of our Bargaining Goals!
Wage increases that reflect inflation, support lower wage members, and our retirement
We are seeking cost of living adjustments (COLA) to our wages that fully account for inflation in all three years of the contract. Depending upon which consumer price index we use, inflation over 2021 was between 6 to 7.9%, the highest it has been in decades. We know this increase in prices has meant a reduction in our real wages. We see this every time we go to the grocery store, pay for child care, fill our gas tank to get to work, or to take care of other living expenses. In addition to seeking increases that account for inflation, we are seeking to raise the minimum wage for County employees from the current minimum wage of $15 per hour to $22 per hour by the end of the contract. We know that the pandemic and the current economy has hurt us all financially, but the impact on our lower paid members, especially those who are frontline or essential workers has been the greatest. Finally, we are asking that the County make a contribution to workers’ deferred compensation accounts in response to the Oregon Legislature’s changes to PERS.
Equitable pay practices
We want to change the current bilingual pay premium process so that workers who are routinely translating aren’t stymied when they request bilingual pay for that work. We are also proposing improvements in our contract language so that employees seeking reclassification receive credit for all time they have performed work in a higher classification rather than just the prior 6 months and that any bilingual and cultural competency premium be factored into promotional and reclassification pay increases. We are also proposing pay premiums for employees assigned to train other staff, for those employees that work in a jailside setting, differential pay for work performed on Saturday & Sunday, and premium pay for Medical Assistants that have been assigned work well outside of their traditional scope of practice.
Demanding safe workplaces
Our members have reported frequent and ongoing issues that impact their safety at work. This covers everything from hazardous working conditions for those of us performing physical work or manual labor, to violence in the workplace or on the job, to COVID issues. We are proposing a clear standard that management is responsible for providing safe working conditions and a process for a worker to decline an assignment that puts them or others in danger. We are also proposing that the County stand by their policy against violence in the workplace by requiring management to conduct a threat assessment when a credible threat has been identified and report back to workers on that threat assessment.
Improving leave benefits for all and consistent with workforce equity
In 2021, the Oregon Legislature made Indigenous Peoples’ Day a state holiday and we’re proposing that the County follow the State’s lead and honor indigenous people by creating a paid holiday for the purposes of thought and reflection. Further we are proposing new leave banks for employees who have experienced trauma or may experience emergencies related to caring for family members living outside our immediate community. We are also seeking to increase vacation accrual rates for all workers with less that 15 years of service. Finally, we are proposing that the County provide additional support to part-time workers that have been traditionally not eligible for FMLA or OFLA.
Addressing staffing and workload
When there has been a layoff in a work unit or even a prolonged period of unfilled job vacancies, all too often that work is pushed on to the remaining employees. We’re proposing an end to that practice and that management be required to prioritize work or adequately compensate employees for taking on additional work. Additionally, we are demanding that the County staff operations to at least their own minimum staffing levels and that any time that they mandate overtime for that overtime to be paid at the doubletime rate.
Here is a complete list of our Bargaining Goals!
Our next negotiation session with the County is Thursday, April 28th. We will continue to bargain with the County every other week in full day bargaining sessions until we reach a Tentative Agreement that we can endorse for ratification! Keep a look out for actions and other activities you can do to support bargaining including becoming a Member Action Team Member!