Bargaining Update 8/10/22

We bargained again with the County on August 5th and discussed several topics including COLA, medical insurance, recoupment of overpayments, bilingual differential, and Indigenous People’s Day.

COLA  (Cost of Living Adjustment)

We know this is the highest priority of our membership.  The increasing cost of necessities like food and fuel.  We’ll continue to fight for a wage settlement that we can recommend to our membership.

We responded to the County’s counter proposal of 5% increase and a 2% bonus on 7/1/22 by maintaining our position of a 7.9% COLA but offering to defer market adjustment bargaining scheduled for 2023 to 2024 in order to defer costs.  For the second year of the contract, we made a counter-offer of 7% to the County’s proposed increase of 5%.  In the final year of the contract, we agreed to the traditional COLA formula but proposed a wage reopener if the Consumer Price Index exceeds 5%.  Additionally, we maintained our position on other wage items including contribution to our deferred comp plan and premium pay assignments including mandatory overtime, jail-side work differential, weekend differential, lead pay, and certain Work out of Class Medical Assistant assignments.

Medical Insurance

The County maintained its position that Kaiser members pick-up a greater share of their premium.  This is despite the fact that in 2018, we agreed to plan design changes increasing specialist and hospital visit co-pays to mitigate rising premium costs. The Kaiser premium increases were below the national average last year and so the County’s proposal is unjustified.


We proposed that the County be prohibited from making any payroll deductions for overpayments without an employee’s written authorization.  Our experience since the implementation of Workday in 2019 and over the course of the COVID pandemic has made it clear that the County either does not have the capacity or the willingness to avoid continuous or widespread pay errors, nor do they have the systems in place to handle these situations compassionately or transparently on a consistent basis.  During our discussion at the table on this topic, a management team member continued to identify employee error as one of the key issues contributing to overpayments.  It is clear from that statement that they still do not understand the nature of the problem, nor the terrible impact forced payroll deductions for overpayments have had on workers. 

Bilingual Differential

We responded to the County’s rejection of our bilingual pay proposal by pointing to the difficulty that bilingual employees have had with being compensated for using their bilingual skills.  All too often, the County forces employees to jump through multiple hoops to be paid appropriately.  Bargaining Team member and Medical Assistant Cynthia Arevalo spoke at the bargaining table about her experience as a bilingual employee.   This year she transferred to a position supporting a medical provider with primarily Spanish-speaking patients.  Though she used her bilingual skills to communicate with Spanish-speaking patients, management still refuses to provide the regular bilingual differential. 

Indigenous People’s Day

The County responded to our proposal for Indigenous People’s Day by saying that they believed that they were already ahead of other comparable employers on paid leave benefits.  This response completely misses the point.  We are seeking to add Indigenous People’s Day as a recognized holiday to honor the people who work for and are served by the County who identify as Indigenous. It is also a crucial step to aligning the work of the County to better support Indigenous communities.  At many Multnomah County meetings, a land acknowledgement is recited, identifying that we live and reside on the ancestral home of several tribal communities and reminding us of the systematic and strategic annihilation of Indigenous peoples.  By recognizing and implementing a holiday of remembrance and introspection, the County would put more than just words behind this acknowledgement.

What’s Next?

Bargaining Team 2022
Front row left to right: Galen Cohen, Rebecca Lillie, President Joslyn Baker, Grant Swanson, Niyia Batugo. Back row left to right: Jordan Muehe, Maya Noble, Darlena Hale, Matt Davis, Manuel Arellano, Kristian Williams, Eben Pullman, Cynthia Arevalo. Not pictured: Percy Winters, Jr. and Robin Easton-Davis

We bargain again with the County on August 25, and then on September 2. 

Support our bargaining efforts by wearing green, a union button or putting up a placard in your workplace.

Display a Union background up for your virtual meetings

Attend the Rally!

On Wednesday, August 24 from 5-7pm we will be holding a rally to support our efforts to achieve a strong and equitable contract.  The rally will be at Powell Park @ SE 26th Ave. and Powell Blvd.

Spread the word. Share this post!