Following months of often contentious bargaining, the District Council of Trade Unions (DCTU) reached a tentative agreement with the City of Portland on a new three-year contract. The deal came in the early morning hours of Oct. 5, ending a marathon 22-hour mediation session.
DCTU is a coalition of seven unions representing 1,800 city employees that bargain together with the City. AFSCME Local 189 is the largest local in the group, with about 1,100 members. Others are Laborers Local 483; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 48; Machinists Lodge 1005; Plumbers and Fitters Local 290; Operating Engineers Local 701; and Painters and Allied Trades District Council 5.
“This was a long, hard-fought battle,” said Oregon AFSCME Executive Director Ken Allen. “In the end, we accomplished a reasonable settlement. We have a lot of language and economic gains for our members, and the entire DCTU feels good about the settlement. We should feel very good about what we accomplished in these difficult economic times.”
City workers will see no cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in the first year, but will receive a COLA of between 1 and 5 percent in the agreement’s second and third years, based on the Portland Consumer Price Index. The employees’ benefit package was fully retained.
There will be no step freezes. Additionally, there is a 3 percent additional step increase for a number of classifications in the third year of the contract that were determined to be underpaid in the market. The additional step will be implemented on the employee’s anniversary date, and will impact over 700 workers.
Other contract highlights:
- Contracting out language was strengthened. The City must notify a union when it’s going to contract out work and it cannot contract out unless it saves money by doing so, and the savings can’t come from workers getting lower pay and benefits. Other criteria considered will include efficiencies, liability and risk.
- The day after Thanksgiving was added as a holiday.
- Hour-for-hour compensation for holiday pay. This issue will have a significant impact on members. Prior to this agreement, members (especially if they worked 4/10 or 3/12 schedules) had to use two to four hours of vacation or comp time to make them whole for their holiday pay. The annual value to members should range from $500 to $1,200 or more a year, depending on their hourly rate of pay.
- A full DCTU wage survey will be completed in April 2013 for use in the next negotiation session.
- Voluntary overtime will not be allowed if an employee takes a full day of non-protected sick leave or leave used in lieu of sick leave, until after time taken is made up during the same week. It does not apply to dependent care, Family and Medical Leave or sick leave used for doctor appointments.
“I think it is important to emphasize that the bargaining team worked very hard to get the best contract for our members as possible, given the economic climate of the country and Oregon,” said DCTU’s lead negotiator James Hester, who serves as the staff rep for AFSCME Local 189. “All of them put in extremely long hours.”
A ratification vote date had not been set before this issue of the Labor Press went to press. The Portland City Council also must ratify the agreement.