Workers at Multnomah County voted resoundingly in favor of ratifying a new three-year contract in ballots cast Nov. 13-14. About 2,900 workers are covered by the agreement between the County and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 88, which was approved by 94 percent of those casting ballots.
The agreement mostly rolls forward the same terms as the previous contract — with one big exception: A new County minimum wage of $15 an hour will raise wages for about 160 employees who were making below that amount. That minimum will be phased in, with a $13 minimum retroactive to July 1, 2014; rising to $14 on July 1, 2015; and reaching $15 on July 1, 2016.
For the rest, wages will increase 2.7 percent across the board, retroactive to July 1, 2014. Wages will also rise on July 1, 2015, and July 1, 2016, based on the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), with a minimum of 1 percent and a maximum of 4 percent. Local 88’s negotiating team, led by Oregon AFSCME representative Bryan Lally, had proposed increases of CPI plus 1 percent — to catch up for years in which members voluntarily gave up any increase in order to help the County and prevent layoffs. But County negotiators made it clear they would not agree to that.
Other key terms are identical to the previous contract: nine paid holidays a year; 2.4 to 5.4 weeks of paid vacation; paid sick leave; seniority rights; a grievance procedure; pension benefits and retiree medical insurance; and employer-provided medical, dental, vision, and drug coverage for employees, spouses and children. Workers have two health insurance options: a Kaiser plan, for which they pay 5 percent of the premium, and a Moda Platinum plan, for which they pay 6.75 percent.
The contract runs through June 30, 2017, but starting January 1, 2016, either side can choose to reopen bargaining on one issue: health coverage.
The County Board of Commissioners is expected to ratify the contract at its next regular meeting, Dec. 4.