City of Portland employees reject contract extension

City of Portland employees represented by the District Council of Trade Unions (DCTU) have rejected a proposal to extend their collective bargaining agreement for two years. The vote was 400 "yes" to 497 "no."

The DCTU is comprised of seven local unions that represent 1,788 city employees. The unions are the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 189, Laborers Municipal Employees Local 483, Electrical Workers Local 48, Plumbers and Fitters Local 290, Operating Engineers Local 701, Painters Local 10 and Machinists District Lodge 24.

Workers rejected the city's offer of a 1.1 percent cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) and a nine-tenths of 1 percent signing bonus the first year, and a 2 percent to 4.5 percent COLA the second year. The proposal also called for wage increases of between 1 and 7 percent for 800 employees whose job titles have been reclassified to reflect changes in the work they do.

The city can declare an impasse at any time, said DCTU spokesman Tom O'Dea of AFSCME. "They have seven days to submit a final offer, followed by a 30-day cooling off period," he said. "After that they can implement all or part of the offer and we can give a 10-day notice of intent to strike."

O'Dea doesn't believe the city will do that � at least until city negotiators report to the full City Council Sept. 9. "My sense is they will stand pat until they hear back from us (the DCTU)," he said.

O'Dea said the DCTU negotiating team will meet soon to discuss what they might do next. Jim McEchron, business manager of Laborers Local 483, said the biggest concern of bargaining unit members was job reclassifications. "There have been a lot of changes in job classifications over the last couple of years that have increased productivity," he said. "Employees looked at the proposal and all they could see was a COLA. There was no recognition of the impact of the changes that have taken place in their job descriptions."

September 3, 1999 issue

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