On July 10 we had a bargaining update from SEIU staff member Denise Garrett and our UO bargaining delegate Kurt Willcox, followed by some Q&A. The labor choir performed, and we heard about an upcoming BBQ.
We started by hearing an update about DAS bargaining with the state, in comparison to OUS bargaining. DAS is the state agencies that are part of the Department of Administrative Services. We used to bargain economic issue with them, but this year we are bargaining separately, because OUS is no longer considered a state agency.
DAS began bargaining before we did, so they are already holding strike authorization votes. The union thinks that DAS members will probably vote to authorize a strike. However, when their bargaining resumed on this past Monday (7/8), there had been encouraging movement on the state’s side. DAS originally proposed a significant takeaway on health care – as bad as OUS’s proposal to double our premium share to 10% from 5%. However, on Monday the state proposed to instead keep the status quo, with the DAS premium share at 5%.
By contrast, OUS is still saying we need to pay a 10% premium share – plus pick up all the cost of any premium increase beyond 5%. Although PEBB premiums are not set to rise this next year, who knows what they will do the year after that and in the future? This proposal could cost OUS workers a lot of money! When you consider how much financial ground we lost over the last four years, it seems like an especially egregious proposal. It’s also being made to faculty, who are also opposed to the concept! Our bargaining team is more determined than ever to hold the line on this, and now we have the DAS example to point to.
DAS workers are also being offered a 1% COLA each December of the contract and two full steps.
By contrast, OUS is proposing a 0% (as in, zero) COLA in the first year of the contract, a 1% COLA in the 2nd year, and a 1% COLA in the last month of the contract. For steps, OUS proposes: 1st year of contract, one step in the form of monthly “bonus” payments, which would not be permanent increases to salary. Those would stop on June 30, 2014, so that they may have raised our taxes for a year, but not added to our base pay level. How much money you got for this bonus would depend on when your anniversary date was, so that one person might get many months of extra pay and the next, only one or two months. Doesn’t sound very fair, does it? Then for the second year of the contract, no steps.
DAS also didn’t face the proposed changes to overtime, layoff bumping rights, or contracting out language that we face! Our union bargaining team has basically said to OUS “get that stuff off the table and let’s talk economics – our membership is not interested in changing our long-time protections here”. They tell us they are planning to hold the line on these protections and have been hearing from members urging them to do so. But Kurt also reminded us that OUS will continue to push these takeaways and a bad economic proposal until it’s clear that employees will fight back against them.
Overall, like our DAS cohorts, we too should start thinking about strike preparation. Although the best strike is the one that never happens, we need to be prepared in case we have to call for the second-best strike – the successful one! Remember that there is some money available if we do go out – there are several hardship funds people can apply to for help with a major bill if they meet the criteria (which include strike service on the picket line or in some other way every day) and are union members. We’ve never had a strike last more than a week, but if DAS, OUS, healthcare, or one of the many other SEIU-represented agencies now bargaining did have a long strike, there would be strike pay. (See the last Local Focus for more info on all that, and a great article by our own Science Library co-worker, Avis Traver!)
In the meantime, please purple up on Wednesdays and days when we are bargaining. Today (July 11) we are bargaining at OSU and have been asked to wear those black “No Contract, No Peace!” stickers; we’ll be bargaining there tomorrow too. Also there is a new version of a letter to President Gottfredson asking him to use his influence with OUS to support us. Our Local union officers will be meeting with him on July 16 to deliver the “No Contract, No Peace” message, as well as the new letters.
THE AUGUST 14TH LOCAL MEETING WILL BE A BARBEQUE AT THE MILLRACE, AT ONYX AND FRANKLIN.