At City of Portland, Laborers and COPPEA ratify new contracts, but DCTU still waiting

Bargaining appears to have curdled into a standoff for the biggest group of City of Portland employees, those in the multi-union District Council of Trade Unions (DCTU), but several other large City bargaining units have ratified new union contracts.

Members of Laborers Local 483 ratified two new contracts by strong majorities in votes counted Aug. 7. One covers about 600 laborers at City bureaus that maintain roads and sewers. It provides annual cost-of-living increases based on the consumer price index, plus extra longevity pay and selective raises of 1.5 to 10 percent for some classifications. However, members also gave up a requirement that the City hire first from among existing employees when hiring for new positions, and agreed to a penalty for employees who fail to schedule one medical checkup every two years. Under the second Local 483 contract, starting wages will rise to $15 and more for the seasonally fluctuating workforce of 400 to 700 workers at City recreation centers, and those who are permanent full-time workers will get health insurance, “just cause” discipline and grievance rights.

Professional & Technical Employees Local 17 (the union formerly known as COPPEA) also ratified a new contract, in votes counted Aug. 25. It covers about 700 city planners and other professional, technical and engineering employees. Like the Local 483 laborers’ deal, it includes cost-of-living increases based on the consumer price index, plus selective increases for some classifications, and a requirement to get a preventative medical exam every two years.

For the DCTU, meanwhile, the last hope to stave off a labor dispute is mediation, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 6. There’s no sign of a deal yet, but DCTU union negotiators say the City finally provided a bona fide counter proposal at their last negotiation session on Aug. 17.

—Don McIntosh

[UPDATE: Portland City Council ratified the three agreements in unanimous 4-0 votes Aug. 30.]

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