By COLIN STAUB
Unless an agreement is reached before then, roughly 1,200 city workers represented by the District Council of Trade Unions (DCTU) will go on strike at 9 a.m. Feb. 10, union leaders announced at a Jan. 27 rally. A strike solidarity fund is raising money to support the workers.
“Portland needs to work all the time, for everyone, and not at a discount,” DCTU President Rob Martineau told union members and supporters at the rally outside City Hall. “We are 1,200 standing together to get what we need.”
DCTU, which bargains on behalf of city workers in six trade unions, has been in negotiations with city management for more than 19 months. The last DCTU contract ended in June 2020, and negotiators have yet to reach agreement on a new contract. After the DCTU declared impasse in December and the two sides failed to reach consensus in mediation, DCTU unions held a strike vote. The result: 91% of eligible members cast ballots, and 86% voted to reject the City’s offer and authorize a strike.
The City’s current offer provides for a 1.6% cost of living adjustment (COLA) retroactive to July 2021, a 5% COLA increase this coming July, and a COLA of between 1% and 5% in 2023, dependent on the consumer price index.
The City is also offering a $3,000 one-time bonus to workers, and step increases for those eligible.
Wages are a primary sticking point. DCTU is pushing for across-the-board 2% pay increases for all union employees, higher increases in hourly compensation for swing shift, relief shift and night shift, longevity pay and more.
DCTU leaders set up a solidarity fund Jan. 10 while the strike vote was under way, and as of Feb. 1 it had raised $8,500. The money will be used to support DCTU workers during the strike, or, if DCTU and the City settle before the strike, to help workers in similar situations in the future.
Meanwhile, DCTU filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Oregon Employment Relations Board (ERB) Jan. 18, alleging that City managers interfered with union members’ vote in the strike authorization. According to the legal complaint, City supervisors on Jan. 12 began asking union members whether they supported a potential strike and whether they planned to participate if a strike was called, the complaint states. Supervisors also denied vacation requests for employees because of the possible strike. And supervisors told recently unionized workers that they did not have union representation, the complaint said. DCTU is asking ERB to order the city to acknowledge, cease and apologize for its unfair labor practices, pay a civil penalty of $1,000, and make employees whole who were allegedly denied vacation requests.
The city’s Office of Management and Finance declined to comment on the allegations, citing pending litigation. The city was due to submit a response in the case by Feb. 1. Once ERB receives the response, an administrative law judge will determine whether a hearing is warranted.
DCTU is asking supporters to donate to a strike support fund. If a strike is averted, funds will go to the next union strikers that need help. tinyurl.com/DCTUFund
Be the first to comment