AFSCME holds firm on raises in OHSU bargaining


There’s a major difference between wage proposals from AFSCME Local 328 and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU): One keeps pace with inflation, the other doesn’t even get halfway there.

After 17 weeks of bargaining and some tentative agreements, economics are a key sticking point between OHSU and AFSCME, whose contract for more than 7,000 workers expired June 30.

The two sides are in mediation. When they met on July 5, management was still offering wage increases along the lines of those in the previous contract: 3.5% in year one, then 3% in each subsequent year. (In their last contract, workers got 3.25%, 3% and 3% raises over three years).

But a lot has changed since 2019, when the last contract was negotiated. In the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, year-over-year inflation is sitting at 8.6%. Local 328 is pushing for wages that take that into account. The union is holding to an across-the-board 9% raise at ratification, and 8% each in the second and third years.

The two sides have reached agreements on non-economic matters, including adding another member to the union negotiating team, language covering worker reclassification, and emergency/catastrophic event leave.

AFSCME also reduced its proposal for retention bonuses by half (from $2,000 to $1,000 for each five years of service by a full-time worker) in an effort to show movement. But the disparity between wage proposals remains.

“We shouldn’t have to fight tooth and nail for raises that are barely enough to cover the increased cost of living in the Portland metro areas,” Local 328 president Michael Stewart said in remarks to the crowd at a June 30 union rally.

The two sides held a fifth mediation session July 13, after this issue of the Labor Press went to print. Further sessions are planned for late July and August.



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