City of Portland worker contract bargaining enters mediation


Employees at the City of Portland rallied in front of City Hall Sept. 29, calling for a fair contract. Bargaining has been moving at a snail’s pace, and last week the District Council of Trade Unions (DCTU), which negotiates on behalf of eight union locals, was forced into mediation.

The first session was Sept. 23, and it didn’t go well.

According to union bargaining committee members, after waiting nearly seven hours for a proposal from the city, the session ended abruptly when they were handed “one of the most regressive bargaining proposals in the history of DCTU/City of Portland bargaining.”

Members of the bargaining committee believe the City is not interested in settling the contract and is forcing the unions to move to a strike.

The City is pushing for significant changes in contracting-out language and major adjustments in shift times, seniority, and overtime pay. It wants to freeze all step increases in 2011-12, with no cost-of-living raises this year, and possibly 1 to 5 percent COLAs in the next two years. And it is refusing to guarantee inclusion of dependents in the cost of health care under new federal health care legislation.

The parties are required to engage in mediation for a minimum of 15 days. The last session was held Sept. 30, after this issue went to press.

Bargaining can continue until one or both parties declare an impasse, after which the parties have seven days to submit their final offers to the State Employment Relations Board. After that, both parties enter into a mandatory 30-day cooling-off period. Bargaining may continue during this time. After the 30-day period, the City may submit a final offer and the DCTU may call for a strike vote, with 10 days notice before walking out.


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