Update on Local Labor Negotiations

Dear Local 085 Members,

I wanted to take a moment to update everyone on the struggles of two of our community’s locals: SEIU Local 049 McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center workers and the UO graduate students from the GTFF. Each union has a press release update listed below. We will continue to update everyone on their issues, especially because in the past both locals have supported us during our negotiations with OUS.

In it Together!
Carla McNelly
President SEIU Local 085

Update on McKenzie-Willamette Labor Struggle from SEIU Local 049

Thank you for your interest in McKenzie Willamette Medical Center. Several things have occurred since I last updated everyone. Unfortunately none of them good.

  1. We are meeting with a federal mediator and although we are still bargaining management refuses to move anything economic or not. They are still stuck on the 1.2% and 1.5% raises and an increase in healthcare costs that would eat up this raise for all of our lower paid members. The raise equates to about a penny per hour.
  2. We have filed three unfair labor practice charges aimed at them. The first is for their absolute refusal to send us any information about the insurance plan that they wish to institute and charge more for. This charge has been found to have merit and is moving along. The second is for management refusing to let us attend new employee orientations although it is a right in our contract. They do not want to let us meet or sign up new members although MWMC is a closed shop. The third is for surveillance they conducted during our rally. Management required our members to sign out for their breaks with their managers if they were going to leave property. This was the first time they have ever done this and they only did it during the day of our rally. We are meeting with the NLRB this week to testify.
  3. Several union activists have been disciplined for questionable things recently. Management has effectively frightened most of the members into submission making it difficult to gain strength in this unit.
  4. All grievances are being ignored until I actually threaten to file ULP’s about it. When they are answered they do not meet with us they simply send a letter stating their denial of the grievance.
  5. Management is understaffing the hospital in all departments. The scariest is in nursing units where C.N.A’s are often forced to take up to 18 patients. An average number for C.N.A’s to take in normal acute care is about 8. Management then blames and disciplines our members when things go wrong. This situation is frightening as it could very well lead to a serious accident or death of a patient.
  6. CHS continues to bargain in bad faith will all the hospitals it owns across the country. Meanwhile they have purchased HCA in Florida for several billion dollars and now have become the biggest and wealthiest for profit health care system in the United States.

I am certain that their goal is to move towards impasse where they intend to shove this awful contract down our members throats with the hope that the members will fault the union and move towards a decert. Our members need their community now more than ever. I would love to host a meeting with concerned community members and brain storm some ideas. I have heard of some fairly creative ones in the past. I would also like to recruit some folks who can write editorials. I can provide key talking points. The timing of these editorials would be the end of June. We are planning a press event with the media, community and politicians for some time in June. Tentatively it is the 17th but might change depending on the schedules of our elected leaders. As soon as I know I will reach out to all of you.

In Solidarity,
Shari Walton, SEIU Local 49
(541) 285-1326

Update on UO Grad Students Vote by 98% to authorize a Strike

Eugene–The 1,500-member Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) authorized our leadership to call for a strike in response to unsatisfactory contract offers from the University of Oregon Administration. Following the Administration’s refusal to continue to negotiate financial packages last week, our membership called for a strike authorization vote Friday night and, over the last four days, 98% voted in favor of authorization.

Because the Administration’s proposed contract diminishes the quality of compensation for GTFs, we are left with no choice but to strike and demand a fair contract now. The GTFF has made it clear to the Administration that our top priority during negotiations is to achieve a contract that moves toward closing the substantial gap between wages and cost of living, which for many GTFs is hundreds of dollars per month. The offer made by the Administration keeps up with recent average rates of inflation but does little to address this gap, which the GTFF is determined to close within the next five years. The University’s surplus consistently increases by millions of dollars every year. Such surpluses contradict justifications by the Administration for stagnant wages and do little to make the program more competitive and attract the highest caliber candidates.

In addition to stagnant wages, the University Administration is pushing for modifications to the funding of GTFF health insurance, which will drastically increase individual GTF costs for health insurance. The Administration’s proposed cap on health insurance premiums ignores the realities of the healthcare marketplace, forcing individual GTFs to double or triple our healthcare costs or face slashed benefits in order to keep those costs down. The Administration is also looking to remove a fixed cap on graduate student fees, allowing an increase to its revenue and risking GTF financial security moving forward. These proposed changes do not constitute a contract, which facilitates movement to a better financial position in the future.

As GTFs, we are proud of the work we do. We thrive on the rewards and challenges that come with teaching and research. We care about the University of Oregon and want to see it and the community succeed. But the proposals offered by the Administration are ones that GTFs just cannot afford. On May 23rd, GTFs from all across campus showed UO administration how much we value the work we do for the University at the GTFF work-in and rally outside Johnson Hall, showing the Administration how passionate, dedicated, and unified our members are to our university, students, and union. However, we are just as passionate, dedicated, and unified in our fight for a fair contract for all present and future GTFs.

The administration had requested a bargaining session to negotiate a work assignment article, but they still refuse to bargain over wages, healthcare, fees, or paid leave. All bargaining sessions are open to the public, stay tuned for upcoming sessions.

Teri Del Rosso, PR Coordinator: 315.552.8359
Richard Wagner, member.communications@gtff.net

SEIU Local 085