City of Portland contract talks enter mediation


Nearly a month after the June 30 expiration of the contract between the City of Portland and the District Council of Trade Unions (DCTU) — and despite weekly meetings — the two sides appear no closer to reaching agreement. Terms of the expired contract remain in force until a new deal is reached or an impasse is declared.

For the 1,600 union members in the seven-union DCTU, the biggest item holding up agreement is a City proposal that would eliminate protection against contracting out and pave the way for increased privatization.

The City is proposing to gut Article 6 of the contract, “Job Security and Outside Contracting.” Article 6 declares that work performed by bargaining unit employees won’t be contracted out unless it results in reduced costs, and those lower costs can’t come from lower wages, health care or pension costs. The City also agrees not to lay off bargaining unit members because their work was contracted out. And if the City is considering contracting out, it must notify the union and give the union a chance to discuss alternate methods of doing the work.

Instead, the City is proposing to notify the unions in advance of contracting out only if it results in layoff. There would be no restriction against contracting out bargaining unit work, except that the city would be obliged to bargain over the contracting out, if the unions request it within two weeks.

Union officials said the City also refuses to agree to retroactive cost-of-living increases, insisting that any wage hikes take effect the day the new contract is ratified. Union workers, collectively, stand to lose $4,000 for every day a settlement is delayed.

“Never before has the City denied union workers a retroactive COLA settlement. This is a dramatic incentive for the City not to bargain in good faith and reach a timely agreement,” DCTU said in a statement on its website.

The seven unions are getting ready to take their case to the public with a rally Aug. 14 at 4 p.m. at Chapman Square, SW 3rd Ave. and Main St., near City Hall.

A mediated bargaining session was held July 30, after this issue went to press.


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